UN flotilla report delayed again

AFP , Monday 25 Jul 2011

A UN report into Israel's deadly 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, which was to have been published later this week, has been delayed once again

"The secretary-general asked to delay the publication of the report," foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP on Monday, referring to the UN chief, Ban Ki-moon.

But he refused confirm media reports suggesting Israel had requested the delay in a bid to have more time to mend its relations with Ankara, devastated since the flotilla raid in which Israeli forces killed nine Turks.

"The secretary-general has decided to postpone the publication of the report and he decided to consult both sides before taking the decision," Palmor said.

It was the second time that publication of the long-awaited report had been delayed. It was initially to have been released around July 8 but was postponed in order to give the two sides more time to talk.

Turkey says relations between the two can only be restored if Israel apologises for the raid, compensates the families of those killed and the injured, and lifts its blockade on the Gaza Strip.

But Israel has consistently refused to apologise, fearing it could expose its troops to a flood of litigation.

Behind the scenes, however, both sides say they are keen to restore ties, with ongoing efforts to find a solution to resolve the crisis, despite a number of failed attempts.
Last week, a senior Israeli cabinet minister again insisted the Jewish state would not make any official apology or pay direct compensation to the families of the dead and the injured.

In response, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday it would be "unthinkable" to normalise relations without an apology.

He has also recently raised the idea of paying a visit to Gaza -- in a move press reports suggested would take place if Israel continues to refuse to apologise.

Visiting the Hamas-run Gaza Strip would most likely further exacerbate tensions with the Jewish state.

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