News / Europe

Turkey Calls on Israel to Accept International Probe

The killing last week of nine people on a pro-Palestinian humanitarian aid flotilla by Israeli commandos is expected to come under scrutiny during a two-day summit this week in Istanbul, Turkey.  

The two-day Eurasia Summit brings together representatives and leaders of 20 countries.

The presidents of Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and the head of the Palestinian Authority are among those attending.  The Turkish Foreign Ministry says Israel is expected to be represented by a diplomat from its consulate.

"Confidence Building Measures in Asia" is the title of the conference, but the ongoing controversy over the killing of the activists by Israeli commandos is expected to dominate talks.

The incident prompted a worldwide outcry and growing demands that Israel ease or lift the blockade that has been in place since 2007.

Turkey has condemned Israel for the raid.  Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is calling for Israel to accept an international probe into the raid.

Israel has to be held accountable in front of the international community, he says.  If they are not afraid, and do not feel that they have committed a crime, and if they are in defense of their rights, then they should come out and declare their support for this international commission.  If they do not accept this international investigation it means they have something to hide.

The Israeli government is refusing to participate in the probe and says the investigation should be carried out internally by Israelis, with foreign observers.   

Once close allies, relations between the Israel and Turkey are continuing to deteriorate.  During the weekend, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan attacked the Israeli government and made a passionate defense of the Hamas leadership in Gaza.

But relations with Iran appear to be heading in the opposition direction.  Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is due to attend the summit.  Last month Turkey and Brazil reached a deal with Iran over its nuclear program

Mr. Erdogan is expected to have a private meeting with Mr. Ahmadinejad.

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