Turkey president: Israel will suffer consequences for Gaza flotilla 'mistake'
Abdullah Gul: 21 of 22 nations at regional summit condemn Israel over deaths of Turkish activists aboard Gaza aid ship last week.
Turkey's president Abdullah Gul said Tuesday that 21 Asian countries meeting at a security summit have denounced Israel's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla last week.
Speaking as chairman of the 22-member Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), Gul said the condemnation showed Israel was isolated and that it "will suffer the consequences for its mistake against Turkey."
All members of the regional summit, except Israel itself, denounced the raid by Israeli navy commandos on the Turkish aid ship Mavi Marmara last Monday and the death of nine Turkish activists, Gul said.
The Turkish president said 21 of the 22 nations in the grouping have also called on the Jewish state to end its blockade of Gaza and to agree to an international investigation of the incident.
An overwhelming majority of the countries also called for a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East and for Israel to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and place all of its nuclear facilities under the safeguard of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Gul said.
Israel managed to block a joint declaration by the group, whose decisions require consensus, that would have condemned the raid, forcing Turkey to issue a separate statement attached to the declaration.
Israel is widely believed to have a sizable nuclear arsenal. Israel refuses to confirm or deny the suspicions.
Israel has never signed the non-proliferation treaty, which requires members to open nuclear facilities to inspection and to disarm.
Last Monday, Israeli commandos rappelled onto the deck of one of the ships trying to break Israel's three-year-old blockade of Gaza. The soldiers were intercepted by a crowd of activists, setting off a clash that killed nine men - eight Turks and a Turkish American.
Israel says its soldiers began shooting only after a mob of pro-Palestinian activists attacked them - a version backed up by video footage released by the army. But the activists and their supporters say Israeli commandos needlessly opened fire.
The incident triggered a storm of criticism of Israel, which has rejected calls for an international investigation, saying it would be biased.
Russian President Vladimir Putin added Moscow's weight to the calls for such a probe.
"It has to be investigated specially," Putin said at a news conference in Istanbul with Turkey's prime minister, a fierce critic of Israel since its war in Gaza 18 months ago.
The Israeli experts will review several internal military investigations already under way. The military said it expects findings by July 4 into what went wrong with last week's naval operation.
Israel has so far failed to defuse the calls as well as pressure to end the blockade, part of a landslide of diplomatic fallout that has included serious damage to its relations with Turkey, once its most important Muslim ally. Israel says the blockade is needed to prevent the ruling Hamas militant group from importing weapons.
While Israel and Turkey still have strong military ties, Turkey's government has been building closer alliances over the past year with some of Israel's most bitter enemies, including Iran and Syria.
Turkey unofficially sponsored the flotilla's lead ship, where the violence occurred.
"We condemn this act," Putin said of the raid. "The fact that it was conducted in neutral waters evokes special regret and requires separate consideration."