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Entries in Geoffrey Palmer (1)

Friday
Sep022011

Turkey Expels Israel Ambassador Over Flotilla Incident; UN Report Released

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstoc(NEW YORK) -- Diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel deteriorated further on Friday as Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador.

The expulsion comes on the same day as the release of a United Nations report on the May 31, 2010 flotilla incident which left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead. The activists were aboard the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara which was among a group of six vessels carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza. The vessel was stopped by Israeli military who fired live rounds into the ship killing the nine activists.

According to BBC News, the U.N. Secretary General's Panel of Inquiry completed the report in July but its release was delayed while the two governments attempted to repair their relationship. One of the recommendations by the U.N. panel was for Israel to pay compensation and issue an apology for the deaths. During discussions with Turkey, Israel agreed to the compensation but refused to issue a full apology. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that his country was ending its friendship with Israel.

The report, which was leaked to the New York Times, states that, "the flotilla acted recklessly in attempting to breach the naval blockade. The majority of the flotilla participants had no violent intentions, but there exist serious questions about the conduct, true nature and objectives of the flotilla organizers." 

The panel chaired by former New Zealand Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, however, found Israel's response to be excessive and unacceptable after forensic evidence showed some were shot multiple times and at close range. The panel stated that future humanitarian missions to Gaza should be undertaken after consultation with the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority.

"The secretary general's idea was to help bring these two countries back together again. He deeply regrets the fact that this has not been possible through this report," said deputy UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey, according to BBC News.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio