Turkish Marmara ship. Ready for sail
Photo: AP

US: Peace summit instead of flotilla

Turkish newspapers say Washington considering asking Ankara to host Israeli-Palestinian conference in exchange for stopping Gaza-bound sail, ending diplomatic crisis with Jerusalem

The American administration is considering offering the Turkish government a deal, which would see Ankara hosting a peace conference attended by Israel and the Palestinian Authority in exchange for restoring its relations with Jerusalem and stopping the Gaza-bound flotilla planned for late June, Turkish newspaper Zaman reported Friday.


According to the flotilla organizers, vessels from several European countries will leave Turkey towards the end of June.



Eight Turks and an American national were killed last year as Israeli Navy Commandos raided a Turkish ship attempting to reach the Gaza Strip. In response, Turkey recalled its ambassador and demanded that Israel apologize and compensate the victims.


Turkish daily Hurriyet quoted sources as saying that the United States would officially ask Turkey to host an Israeli-Palestinian peace summit in exchange for stopping the flotilla and ending the diplomatic crisis with Israel.


According to the offer, the summit will continue previous gathering held in the past, including the 1991 Madrid Conference and the secret Oslo negotiations in 1993.


A US State Department spokesperson said Wednesday that his country had raised its concerns with the Turkish government regarding any flotilla sailing towards the Gaza Strip.


According to the US, any flotilla would be considered an act of provocation since there is already an effective protocol to transfer humanitarian aid into Gaza.


'Irresponsible and provocative actions'

State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner raised the issue during a daily press briefing in Washington, saying that in recent conversations with the Turkish government the US warned against organizations planning to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza.


"We’ve raised our concerns with the Turkish Government as well, and we’ve also met and said publicly as well as privately, meeting with some of these NGOs, about the risk for attempting to break this blockade," said Toner.


"We have made clear through the past year that groups and individuals who seek to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions that entail a risk to their safety. I think I’ve talked about this specifically."


Toner reiterated that "there are established and efficient mechanisms for getting humanitarian assistance through to Gaza, and that’s been our message consistently".


UN Chief Ban Ki-moon called on governments last Friday to discourage pro-Palestinian activists from sending a new aid flotilla to Gaza.


In letters to Mediterranean governments, Ban said all aid for Gaza, which is blockaded by Israeli forces, should go through "legitimate crossings and established channels" – which in practice in recent years has meant through Israel.


But he also called on Israel to "act responsibly" to avoid violence.



פרסום ראשון: 06.03.11, 19:31
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