Turkey to take Israel's Gaza siege to ICJ next week

There is speculation that Erdogan might go to Gaza through Egypt's Rafah border crossing to show solidarity with the Palestinians.

Turkey to take Israel's Gaza siege to ICJ next week

Turkey said on Saturday that it would apply next week for an investigation by the International Court of Justice into the legality of Israel's naval blockade of the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.

Speaking to Turkish state-run television during a gathering of European foreign ministers in Poland, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also reiterated Turkey's support for efforts to win recognition for a Palestinian state through the United Nations.

On Friday, Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador and froze military agreements with Israel after a U.N. report on the killing of nine Turkish activists during an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship a year ago. Israel still refuses a formal apology to Turkey for killing citizens.

Aside from demanding an apology, and compensation for victim families, Turkey also demands Israel ends the blockade of Palestinians living in Gaza.

The report said Israel's raid of the vessels was "excessive and unreasonable," while the flotilla acted "recklessly" in attempting to break the naval blockade. It also said the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza was "legal".

Davutoglu dismissed a U.N. report into the raid that said Israel's naval blockade of Gaza was a legal security measure. Davutoglu said the report — prepared by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer and former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, and presented to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon — was not endorsed by the United Nations and was therefore not binding."What is binding is the International Court of Justice," Davutoglu said. "This is what we are saying: let the International Court of Justice decide."

"We are starting the necessary legal procedures this coming week," he said.

Davutoglu said the U.N. report released Friday contradicted an earlier report on the Gaza flotilla incident which found that Israeli forces violated international law when they raided the flotilla. That report was prepared in September by three human rights experts appointed by the U.N.'s top human rights body.

Turkey has also said it will pursue criminal cases against Israeli officials responsible for the killings of the nine Turks, one of whom was a U.S. citizen.

Erdogan to besieged Gaza

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, regarded as a hero in the Muslim world for championing the Palestinian cause, is expected to go to Egypt later this month. There is speculation that Erdogan might go to Gaza through Egypt's Rafah border crossing to show solidarity with the Palestinians.

A Turkish official said there were tentative plans for Erdogan to visit Egypt on Sept. 12, and, without specifying where, the official said Erdogan might go to another location during the trip.

He also warned Israel that it risks alienation among Arab nations by resisting an apology.

"If Israel persists with its current position, the Arab spring will give rise to a strong Israel opposition as well as the debate on the authoritarian regimes," Davutoglu said.

Gaza is still considered under Israeli occupation as Israel controls air, sea and land access to the Strip.

A group of international lawyers and human rights activists accuse Israel of committing "genocide" through its crippling blockade of the Strip.

Agencies

Last Mod: 04 Eylül 2011, 14:17
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