‘US to offer Turkey peace process role to stop flotilla’

Ankara would host peace summit in exchange for restoring relations with Jerusalem, preventing upcoming flotilla, ‘Today’s Zaman’ reports. Talkbacks (25) The Obama Administration may soon present the Turkish government with a proposition to stop the upcoming flotilla to Gaza and restore relations between Ankara and Jerusalem, Turkish daily Today’s Zaman reported on Friday. The offer, first reported by Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, would involve Ankara hosting peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, according to the report. The White House is expected to soon officially make the offer to Turkey. RELATED: Turkey warns of ‘necessary response’ to flotilla violence ‘Navy learned from ‘Marmara,’ ready for June flotilla’ Ban calls on Mediterranean countries to stop Gaza flotilla Talks, which have been stalled since late last year after Palestinians demanded Israel extend a freeze of West Bank settlement building, would be resumed in Turkey following the model of the Madrid conference or the secret Oslo talks that followed in the early 1990s, Today’s Zaman reported. Israel has been making great diplomatic efforts in recent weeks to pressure Turkey to stop a repeat of the Gaza flotilla that took place just over one year ago. Nine Turkish nationals were killed by Israeli commandos who boarded one of the six ships that attempted to break Israel’s blockade of the Strip. Another flotilla is expected to head for the Gaza Strip later this month. Ankara, while reportedly warning its citizens of the dangers in making the sea voyage to Gaza, has said that it cannot prevent private citizens from making the journey. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu last month issued a warning to Israel, saying it should “not repeat the human tragedy it caused last year,” adding that Ankara would undertake “the necessary response to any repeated act of provocation by Israel on the high seas,” AFP reported. On Thursday, Davutoglu issued a harsh response to international calls to stop flotilla participants from attempting to break the Israeli blockade. “Sometimes the international community has no courage to warn Israel,” the Turkish foreign minister said, adding that instead of warning Turkey, Israel should be receiving warnings about the flotilla, Today’s Zaman reported. Davutoglu noted that like last year’s flotilla, whose participants hailed from a number of countries other than Turkey, the upcoming blockade-busting flotilla will include many international participants. In democratic societies, he added, governments cannot intervene to stop the work of civil society organizations, according to the report. Amplifying up his rhetoric, a recent trend understood in Israel to be intended for domestic consumption ahead of upcoming elections, Davutoglu alleged that even the framing of eroded relations between Israel and Turkey as “bilateral tension” is merely an attempt “to cover up a crime against humanity,” Today’s Zaman reported. Officials in Jerusalem in recent weeks, have been turning a deaf ear to Davutoglu’s anti-Israel rants because it does not want to play a role in the Turkish elections on June 12, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Much of Israel’s recent diplomatic activity is aimed at creating a more understanding diplomatic environment if the navy has to once again stop the flotilla. Jerusalem has made clear that it will enforce the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz told the Knesset on Tuesday that Israel was prepared for the new flotilla. “The IDF learned the lessons of the [Mavi Marmara],” Gantz told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. “The IDF will act to prevent any attempt to break the naval blockade.” The navy has been conducting training exercises in recent weeks in conjunction with the air force in line with the lessons learned from last year’s flotilla. Members of the Israel Police and the Prisons Service, who specialize in quelling civilian violence, will participate in the operation to stop the flotilla together with the commandos from Navy Flotilla 13, better known as the Shayetet. A senior navy officer said Israel was preparing a number of “surprises” for the ships that are expected to participate in the flotilla. He said soldiers were under order to use force to “neutralize” armed protesters and attackers if necessary, but that the goal would be to take over the ships nonviolently and without casualties on either side.

Herb Keinon and Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.

By JPOST.COM STAFF 06/03/2011 21:08

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