Report: UN panel rules IDF boarded Marmara ‘to kill’
UN commission to publish findings on IDF raid on Turkish flotilla vessel, prompting Israel to debate whether to apologize to Turkey, newspaper says
Aviel Magnezi, Israel News
The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet said Sunday that the Palmer report on last year’s Gaza-bound flotilla is expected to be released this week.
According to the newspaper, the UN-appointed panel to investigate the raid on the Mavi Marmaravessel has ruled that IDF soldiers boarded the ship with an intention to kill.
The Turkish daily claimed that this assertion is what prompted the debate within Israel’s government on whether the Jewish State should issue an apology to Turkey. The Forum of Eight Ministers was expected to discuss the issue on Sunday.
According to the article, Israel is considering compensating the families of the nine people killed aboard the ship, and intends to issue a statement regretting the loss of life – regardless of Turkey’s demand for an official apology.
The newspaper claimed that Israel is worried that such an apology will pave the way for international law suits to be filed against the IDF soldiers.
The newspaper went on to express optimism that Israel and Turkey are to make progress in improving ties when officials from both nations meet in New York on Tuesday. As per the article, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon is expected to confer with Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu, among other officials. Sources in Jerusalem confirmed that Yaalon will be traveling to New York, but said that they are unaware that any such meeting was scheduled.
“I’m in favor of improving relations but this should not be at the expense of Israel alone,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said prior to Sunday’s cabinet meeting. “It’s in the interest of both countries to improve relations and the ball is in Turkey’s court. There is no reason for Israel to apologize, there are soldiers who were sent to do their job mid-sea.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak also addressed the report: “I hope we won’t have to answer these questions this week and that we have more time to fully examine the matter. It is our business to protect officers, commanders and soldiers from possible overseas lawsuits.”
UN report: Gaza blockade legal, Israel doesn’t owe Turkey apology for Marmara
UN investigative committee, headed by Geoffrey Palmer, expected to present report to the UN Secretary General’s office Thursday.
By Barak Ravid and Jonathan Lis, Haaretz
The UN report on last year’s Gaza flotilla clash found that Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip is legal and that Jerusalem owes no apology to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara raid, diplomatic sources said.
The UN investigative committee, headed by Geoffrey Palmer, is expected to present its report to the UN Secretary General’s office today, but it is not clear if it will be released, since Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is not in New York.
The draft report was sent to both Israel and Turkey. Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem who saw the draft report said it sharply criticizes Turkey for not doing enough to prevent the flotilla from setting sail and for conducting a tendentious investigation into the events.
In contrast, the report said that the Turkel Committee, which led Israel’s official flotilla probe, had conducted a professional and independent investigation.
There is some criticism for Israel, however. The report says Israeli commandos used excessive force against the Mavi Marmara’s passengers, though Israel had insisted the soldiers had been attacked and were acting in self-defense.
Nine Turkish nationals were killed by IDF soldiers during the clash that broke out when the troops intercepted the Marmara.
And while international law does allow for ships to be intercepted far from a country’s territorial waters under these circumstances, Israel would have been better off waiting until the flotilla was closer to the blockade line and was 20 miles from shore, the report said.
But Palmer did not demand that Israel apologize to Turkey, suggesting that it express sorrow over the casualties instead. Nor did the report demand that Israel pay any compensation. Should it choose to, it could put money into a special humanitarian fund set up for this purpose, Palmer added.
Meanwhile, efforts in New York to reach a reconciliation with Turkey remained deadlocked, as neither side is willing to budge on the issue of an Israeli apology.
Officials on both sides were reportedly eager to reach a compromise before the report is released, believing that once the report lays blame, it will be harder for the two countries to come to terms.
But Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan instructed the Turkish negotiators not to back down on the demand for an official Israeli apology. Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon told Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu that Israel would not apologize, but would express sorrow over the results.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said, “An apology is not a compromise, as far as I’m concerned it’s a humiliation and it’s forsaking IDF soldiers. We regret the killing of people from all organizations, kinds and countries. There are things we’re ready to discuss and there are things we won’t.
“I’m not willing to see Israel’s national honor being injured; it has real, not abstract meaning in the Middle East,” he said.