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Jun-07-2011 00:52printcomments

Ankara asks Gaza flotilla to wait, but İHH says it will not

A battle of words between the ruling and opposition parties over Israel is getting extended everyday with both parties’ accusing each other of spoiling ties with the country.

Mavi Marmara
AFP photo

(ANKARA) - Ankara has advised the international aid flotilla to Gaza that is planning to depart for Gaza in late June to reconsider its plans and postpone their activity to avoid a repetition of last year’s crisis.

Flotilla organizers, however, said it was unlikely to postpone the activity under the current conditions. Egypt’s opening the Rafah border is not an alternative, the organizers said, adding that the sea blockade should be removed to enable an independent crossing.

“Israel should wait for a new Palestinian government to be set up and then lift the blockade on Gaza. The aid flotilla should also wait to see what happens with the Rafah border crossing being opened and to see how Israel perceives the new government,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told daily Hürriyet published on Monday.

Davutoğlu recalled his meeting with the Palestinian president in Italy last week.

“He said a new government, embracing all Palestine, will be established in two or three weeks. What was Israel saying before? It said it would not lift the blockade on Gaza because it does not recognize Hamas. Since there will no longer be a Gaza administration, Israel should lift the blockade and see how the new government works,” he said.

However, the Humanitarian Aid Foundation, or İHH, is determined to depart for Gaza in late June and will not postpone under these conditions. An İHH official said they had yet to receive any such proposals, adding that it could not be a decision of solely the İHH in Turkey, since 22 other international organizations were involved.

Asked if they would consider sending the flotilla after the foundation of a new Palestinian government, the official said: “There is no change at the moment. Fatah and other parties in Palestine tell us the flotilla is very important and they are expecting it. If anything new happens we can discuss it. However, now we are preparing to depart the last week of June,” Hüseyin Oruç, the deputy chair of İHH told Hürriyet Daily News on Monday.

Opening the Rafah border does not solve the problem, he said. “The embargo should not be applied to the sea as well. There is a need for an entirely independent crossing, which is not controlled by Israel or Egypt. It should be under the control of Palestinians. There is no alternative other than by sea,” Oruç said.

The Rafah border crossings were not sufficient, even worse than before, he said. New regulations on the Rafah border enables crossings of Palestinian citizens, but not trade or aid materials, he said, adding that only males aged below 18 and above 40 could cross and that those who fell in that age bracket had to apply for visas.

“When the Rafah gate opened after the Mavi Marmara incident, there was no regulation but sometimes 10 people, sometimes 500 were able to cross. Now there is a limitation of 300 people. It was 1,500 before the embargo,” Oruç said.

No politician among passengers

Some 15 ships will sail toward Gaza, carrying approximately 1,500 activists from about 100 countries. “The Mavi Marmara will carry 400 foreigners and 100 Turks,” Oruç said.

Asked if any parliamentarians would be among the passengers, Oruç said the activity was out of politics. “This is a civil initiative and it should remain as it is. We did not offer any [politicians a place] and there will not be any.”

Israel’s May 31, 2010, raid killed nine people aboard the Mavi Marmara, including Furkan Doğan, an American of Turkish descent, and eight Turkish citizens.

AKP, CHP spat over ties with Israel deepens

A battle of words between the ruling and opposition parties over Israel is getting extended everyday with both parties’ accusing each other of spoiling ties with the country.

“We should all avoid acts that would weaken our position with regard to the ongoing inquiry at the United Nations about the Mavi Marmara incident,” Foreign Minister Davutoğlu told the CNNTürk in an interview Monday. Davutoğlu’s remarks came as a reaction to Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, head of the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, who has been questioning the government’s role in last year’s Mavi Marmara ship.

Kılıçdaroğlu harshly slammed the government for sending hundreds of activists to Gaza without considering its results and hinted it was behind the organization. “Questions Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu are posing are the same as Israel’s. This is very thought-provoking,” Davutoğlu said. “Introducing these questions as a tool to the domestic politics is wrong and they should not be done by the main opposition party.”

Recalling that Turkey was in a legal struggle with Israel to get the rights of murdered Turkish citizens while trying to carry humanitarian aid to Gaza, Davutoğlu said he wanted to see all political parties back this struggle.

Kılıçdaroğlu, however, continued his criticisms in Mersin and Silifke Monday. Arguing that an investigation into the Mavi Marmara incident was stopped upon an order by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Kılıçdaroğlu hinted it was to cover up the government’s faults in this process.

“A criminal complaint was filed about this. The Justice Ministry has to give permission to launch an investigation. Why was this permission not given? Did you give or not give this permission?”

In the meantime, the Justice Ministry denied Kılıçdaroğlu’s claims on the failure of launching a legal action on Mavi Marmara incident. “To start a legal action, it’s necessary to see the completion of an ongoing prosecution held by the Chief Prosecutor,” it said in a written statement. The probe is still ongoing in Istanbul.

Originally published here: Ankara asks Gaza flotilla to wait, but İHH says it will not - Hürriyet Daily News

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.