Protesters prepare to burn a representation of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon during a demonstration outside the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, Tuesday, June 1, 2010. Israel’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship has ignited unprecedented anger in Turkey and driven the Jewish state’s relations with its most important Muslim ally to their lowest point in six decades.
Demonstrators waving flags of Turkey and Palestine chant nationalist slogans during a protest against Israel near the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul June 1, 2010. Israeli marines stormed a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza on Monday and at least nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed, triggering a diplomatic crisis and an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council. The banners read, “Open sea pirate Israel” and “Enough is enough.”
Demonstrators shout slogans during a protest against Israel in front of the residence of Israeli Ambassador to Turkey, Gabby Levy, in Ankara June 1, 2010. Israeli marines stormed a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza on Monday and at least nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed, triggering a diplomatic crisis.
Demonstrators line up for a funeral prayers on a main street leading to the residence of Israeli Ambassador to Turkey, Gabby Levy, in Ankara June 1, 2010. Demonstrators attend a funeral prayers who were killed as Israeli marines stormed a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza on Monday. At least nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed, triggering a diplomatic crisis.
Foreign Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoglu (L) departs after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the State Department in Washington, June 1, 2010.
Turkey wants US condemnation of Israeli raid
WASHINGTON – Turkey demanded on Tuesday that the United States condemn the deadly Israeli raid on an aid flotilla headed to the Gaza Strip that ended with Israeli soldiers killing nine activists.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters ahead of a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that Turkey, an unofficial backer of the flotilla, was disappointed with the Obama administration’s response to the raid.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said later that Davutoglu did not demand a U.S. condemnation in his meeting with Clinton.
“The secretary reiterated during the meeting what she said afterwards, which is we have to have a careful, thoughtful approach to this going forward,” Crowley said.
Another senior Obama administration official said Davutoglu had in fact made plain to the United States his disappointment in the response. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
A Turkish official said that in his meeting with Clinton and a separate meeting with national security adviser James Jones, Davutoglu had asked the United State to convey to Israel that Turkey was preparing measures in response unless Israel moved quickly to release the Turkish citizens held in the raid and return the bodies of those killed, most of whom were believed to have been Turks. The official also spoke on condition of anonymity for a similar reason.
Later, President Barack Obama spoke by telephone with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The White House said Obama expressed his condolences and was “working in close consultation with Israel to help achieve the release of the passengers, including those deceased and wounded, and the ships themselves.”
Obama also made clear the U.S. support for a credible investigation.
“The president affirmed the importance of finding better ways to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza without undermining Israel’s security,” the White House statement said.
The White House has reacted cautiously, asking for full disclosure of the facts about the raid. The killings have put the administration in an awkward position between two allies at a time that it is trying to refocus Middle East peace talks and win new sanctions against Iran in the United Nations Security Council.
Most of those killed in the raid were believed to be Turks, and Turkey has demanded return of the bodies.
In a sign of the sensitivity of the raid on U.S.-Turkish relations, the State Department closed coverage of the meeting to the press. It had previously scheduled a photo opportunity, a venue in which reporters probably would have tried to ask questions.
Before they met, however, Davutoglu was perfectly open about the message he would convey to Clinton.
“I have to be frank: I am not very happy with this statement from Washington yesterday,” Davutoglu said. “We expect a clear condemnation.”
He said that Turkey, a NATO member, would bring up the issue soon at the security alliance’s council.
“Citizens of member states were attacked by a country that is not a member of NATO,” he said. “I think you can make some conclusions out of this statement.”
Davutoglu said that there was no need to wait for an investigation of the killings, because in Turkey’s view the raid was illegal under international law because it happened in international waters.
“This is a criminal act,” he said. “We don’t need to make an investigation to see this.”
Davutoglu also contrasted his criticism of the United States with praise of the statements by the European Union.AP