Israel - Turkey

Turkey calls for Israeli raid condemnation


Turkey expects a conference of regional leaders in Istanbul to condemn Isral's raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that left nine dead. Israel plans to hold internal probes, falling short of calls for an international inquiry.


Turkish diplomats told news agencies that they expect the final declaration of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) to condemn the Israeli raid.

Presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Hamid Karazai of Afghanistan will attend, as will Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and Russian Mrime Minister Vladimir Putin. 

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu earlier said normalisation of ties with Israel would depend on whether it agrees to an international inquiry into the raid whose fatalities were mostly Turkish nationals.

"If Israel gives the green light for the establishment of an international [inquiry] commission and is ready to answer to the commission, then naturally Turkish-Israeli ties will follow a different path," Davutoglu told reporters.

But Israeli minister Benny Begin on Tuesday confirmed that Israel will hold its own probe. It internal probes will look exclusively into the legality of Israel's blockade of Gaza and the flotilla raid that sought to break it, he told public radio on Tuesday.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

Defence Minister Ehud Barak made clear that he did not want the commandos who carried out the raid to appear on the stand.

"I insist that the combatants, who carried out a task that we imposed on them and who had to make decisions in split seconds about whether to pull the trigger without taking legal considerations into account, not be questioned," he said.

As the rift widened between the once-close allies, Turkey saw its ties strengthen with other powers in the region.

The CICA summit brought was to discuss peace and security issues, including nuclear disarmament, the peaceful use of nuclear energy and boosting confidence-building measures.

Israel is a member of CICA and was invited to the Istanbul conference, but only its ambassador to Turkey was likely to participate, a Turkish diplomat said.

Ahead of the meeting, Abbas called for a break to the Israeli blockade of Gaza and urged Hamas to reconcile with his Fatah party.

"The best answer is for Palestinian groups to reconcile and resist Israel hand in hand," Abbas said on Turkish television.

Foreign ministers of Afghanistan and Pakistan also condemned the raid and voiced support for Turkey.

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