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Report: Turkey Threatens to Leave UN Gaza Flotilla Inquiry Panel over 'Israel-Favored' Draft

The UN panel investigating Israel's raid of the Mavi Marmara reportedly falls short of saying Israel violated international law.

Turkey threatened Friday to drop out of a United Nations panel investigating Israel's deadly raid on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May last year, saying the wording of the draft report was in favor of Israel, Turkish daily Hürriyet reported.

Israel Navy forces approach one of six ships of an aid flotilla bound for Gaza on May 31, 2010. (Photo by: Reuters) The report said that Ankara believed the panel was favoring the Israeli view, as its wording fell short of saying Israel violated international law when its naval commanders boarded the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish-sponsored Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

The Mavi Marmara was one of several aid ships aiming to deliver supplies to Gaza in violation of an Israeli naval blockade. In efforts to prevent the ship from arriving at Gaza's shores, Israeli navy commandos boarded the ship on May 31, 2010 and were met with violence. Nine Turkish activists were killed in the clash that ensued.

“There is a crack on the panel. The talks are not going well," the Hürriyet Daily News reported a diplomatic source as saying, but added that the rough draft "is being worked on.”

Israel and Turkey were both handed a draft of the UN report ahead of its intended public release this month, but Turkey's threat to disassociate itself from the report unless radical changes were made has delayed the announcement of the panel’s findings.

The findings were due to be released ahead of another Gaza-bound flotilla, which is expected to set sail in mid-June. The organizers of the second flotilla initially intended to embark this month, but deferred the departure date until after the upcoming Turkish parliamentary elections.

Turkey has demanded that Israel apologize for the raid, and pay compensation. Israel has maintained its stance that it had a right to protect the Ocean siege on the Gaza strip, and has expressed regret for the deaths in the attack.

UN Secretary-General Ban ki-moon set up the four-member review panel in August 2010. The panel is led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer, who is also an expert in international maritime law, and includes one representative each from Israel and Turkey.

The Israeli member of the panel is Joseph Ciechanover, former Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Turkish member is Ozdem Sanberk, a former diplomat who held senior positions in the Turkish Foreign Ministry and the United Nations.

The panel listened to the representatives for the last time late-April and was expected to make its findings public this month.

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