Turkey dismisses Israel`s flotilla probe; insists on int’l investigation

Turkey dismissed a commission set up by Israel to probe the deadly raid on Gaza-bound aid ships.

Ankara: Turkey dismissed on Monday a commission set up by Israel to probe the deadly raid on Gaza-bound aid ships, warning of unspecified measures if an UN-led inquiry was not carried out.

"We have no trust at all that Israel, a country that has carried out such an attack on a civilian convoy in international waters, will conduct an impartial investigation," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters.

"Any investigation conducted unilaterally by Israel will have no value for us" he said.

"Ankara insists on an international commission to investigate the Israeli commando raid on a Gaza aid flotilla that ended in the death of nine Turks" he added.

Turkey insists that the May 31 raid, in which eight Turks and a dual Turkish-US national were killed, be investigated by a commission "under the direct control of the United Nations... an impartial one with the participation of Turkey and Israel," he said.

"To have a defendant acting simultaneously as both prosecutor and judge is not compatible with any principle of law.

"If an international commission is not set up and if Turkey`s rightful demands continue to be disregarded, Turkey has the right to unilaterally review ties with Israel and implement sanctions," he warned.

Ankara "is waiting patiently for the international community to take action in an objective manner," Davutoglu said, adding that "otherwise there might be measures that we could take."

In a pointed appeal to Washington, he recalled that the youngest victim of the raid, 19-year-old Furkan Dogan, held also US nationality.

"We believe the United States will eventually act in defence of its citizen`s right to live," he said.

Israel said Sunday it had set up an "independent public commission" to probe the raid on the flotilla, which had aimed to break the blockade of Gaza and deliver supplies to its impoverished people.

It said the commission would include two observers from Canada and Ireland but they would not be able "to vote in relation to the proceedings and conclusions of the commission".

Washington welcomed the move as "an important step forward," urging a prompt investigation.

Davutoglu played down the role for foreign observers, saying that "international participation in a commission established by Israel does not give it an international quality".

Israel has said its commandos resorted to force after they were attacked with sticks and stabbed as soon as they landed on the Turkish Mavi Marmara ferry, where the bloodshed ocurred.

Campaign organisers insisted the soldiers fired as soon as they landed.

The raid plunged already strained ties between NATO member Turkey and the Jewish state, once close allies, into deep crisis.

Ankara recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv and said bilateral ties would be reduced to a "minimum level".

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan added to the tensions with fiery anti-Israeli tirades, marked by portraying Hamas, the radical Palestinian group controlling Gaza, as "resistance fighters."

After initial solidarity with the government, Turkish opposition parties have put pressure on Erdogan to explain why the Turkish activists, who dominated the flotilla, were allowed to sail despite Israeli warnings that they would not be allowed to Gaza.

The campaign was led by an Islamist charity which, critics charge, had the tacit approval of Erdogan`s Justice and Development Party (AKP), the moderate offshoot of a now-banned Islamist movement.

The crisis with Israel, followed by Turkey`s "no" vote to fresh sanctions against Iran adopted by the UN Security Council last week, have raised concern that the AKP is abandoning Turkey`s traditionally pro-Western orientation, a charge the government rejects.

Bureau Report

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