IMPACTS OF THE UN PALMER REPORT
4 September 2011
After the leaking of a U.N. report on the Mavi Marmara incident by the New York Times on September 2, 2011, Israeli – Turkish relations have entered a new stage.
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Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu’s office announcement
The State of Israel has adopted the Palmer Report, with the exception of the reservations detailed by the Israeli representative to the Palmer Commission, Joseph Ciechanover. The report, which deals with the flotilla incident of 31 May 2010 and has been adopted by the United Nations Secretary-General, is a professional, serious and comprehensive document.
The flotilla in question attempted to breach the naval blockade on Gaza. The Palmer Report confirmed the legality of Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, and Israel’s right to enforce the blockade, including in international waters. This naval blockade was put into place to prevent the smuggling of missiles and other weapons to Hamas, a terror organization which controls Gaza and is supported by Iran. Over the last few years, Hamas has fired over 10,000 rockets and mortar shells with the objective of striking Israeli civilian targets.
While enforcing the naval blockade, Israel has interdicted many vessels on their way to the Gaza Strip with no casualties. In the case of the Mavi Marmara flotilla, Israeli soldiers boarded the vessels with non-lethal means and with no intention of causing any harm. When they were brutally attacked by dozens of violent IHH activists armed with clubs, knives and steel pipes, the Israeli soldiers were forced to defend themselves. After many soldiers were injured during the operation, nine of the IHH members who were endangering IDF soldiers were killed.
As advised in the report, Israel once again expresses its regret over the loss of life, but will not apologize for its soldiers taking action to defend their lives. As any other state, Israel has the right to defend its civilians and soldiers.
Israel cherishes the significant ties, past and present, between the Turkish and Jewish peoples. For that reason, the State of Israel has made numerous attempts in the last few months to settle the dispute between the two countries, but regrettably, these attempts have not been successful.
The State of Israel hopes that a way will be found to move beyond this discord and will continue its endeavors to that end.
It should be emphasized that beyond ratifying the legality of the blockade, the report determines that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and that anyone interested in sending humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip must do so in coordination with Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and must transfer the aid via the land crossings.
In regard to the Israeli ambassador to Turkey, he concluded his term earlier this week, and has already bid farewell to his Turkish colleagues. He had previously made his plans to return to Israel in the coming few days.
Israel presumes that Turkey will respect the international laws pertaining to marine travel in the Mediterranean Sea.
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Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon’s statements
According to the Israeli National News Agency; Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon stated on Channel 2 that “The Turkish position is surprising, and it harms Turkish interests. It is a matter of status and interests, not national honor. We are glad the UN report calls upon Turkey to restore good relations with Israel. It is good we did not apologize, there is nothing to apologize for, even according to the report.”
Turkish President, Abdullah Gul’s statements
While speaking to reporters Turkish President Abdullah Gul said “In fact, these measures would have been taken earlier, but in an effort to give chance to some ally countries’ good-intentioned efforts, we have waited until today. Perhaps, certain circles could not understand our state’s determination to show that incidents of the past were not forgotten and that we will always protect the rights of our citizens. The measures announced today constitute the first step. In line with the progress of events and Israel’s stance, additional measures can be taken in the future.”
Gul added “The Israeli government did not have any reliability or strategy. Turkey, as the most powerful country in this region, will not only protect its own rights but also the rights of all the people in need. The international community should also be aware of that. Turkey wanted peace and stability in its region, and in order to achieve such goal, Israel had to take some steps.”
As an answer to a question regarding the UN Palmer report which does not suggest an apology for Turkey, Gul said, “Such report does not exist for us”.
Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu’s action plan against Israel
1 – Diplomatic relations with Israel have been reduced to a second-secretary level. All personnel above the second-secretary level, primarily the ambassador, will return to their countries by Wednesday at the latest.
2- All military agreements with Israel have been suspended.
3- Turkey would take every precaution it considers necessary for the safety of maritime navigation in the East Mediterranean, as the country with the longest coastline there.
4- Turkey did not recognize Israel’s right to blockade Gaza and intended to ask the International Court of Justice in The Hague to examine the blockade as it stood on May 31, 2010.
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