Turkey rejects any delay in the release of a UN report on the 2010 attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla by a September 2 deadline, threatening to sanction an unapologetic Israel.
“It is not remotely possible for us to agree to a six-month delay,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said during a visit to Sarajevo on Thursday.
“For us the deadline [for the formal apology from Israeli officials] is the day the UN report gets released, or we resort to Plan B,” said the minister without elaborating on the alternative plan.
On May 31, 2010, Israeli navy commandos launched a deadly onslaught against the six-ship civilian aid convoy while it was in international waters in the Mediterranean en route to the blockaded Gaza Strip.
Nine Turkish nationals, including a Turkish-American teenager, were killed and more than 40 others were wounded onboard the vessel Mavi Marmara, with the incident resulting in a major diplomatic strain in the bilateral ties between Ankara and Tel Aviv.
Turkey has been demanding that Israel issue a formal apology, pay compensation to the families of the victims and lift the Gaza blockade before relations between the former allies could be normalized.
Davutoglu’s Thursday remarks came in response to reports that Israel was in contact with US officials to request a delay of the United Nations report on the Flotilla attack for another six months — a move to lessen diplomatic pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu whose policies are earning goring unpopularity with Israelis.
The report by the UN commission headed by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer was originally expected to be released in February 2011, but has been postponed several times.
“We are not in a position to tell the UN to release or delay it, but we will do as necessary when the UN finally does release it,” Davutoglu said.
The Turkish minister criticized Israel’s last minute excuses of intra-coalition differences as the reason for the delays and threatened if the trend continues, “Turkey will be imposing sanctions that are well known by Israel and some other international parties.”
Davutoglu described Turkey’s demands regarding the killing of its citizens in international waters as “the natural right of Turkey to call [Israel] to account.”
The Turkish official further affirmed Ankara is determined to make every effort to ensure the recognition of the Palestinian statehood in the United Nations.