Report: U.S. to offer Turkey major role in Mideast talks if it stops Gaza flotilla
According to the Turkish daily Hurriyet, U.S. may offer Ankara to host major Israeli-Palestinian peace talks if it mends its ties with Israel and prevents upcoming Gaza-bound flotilla.
The U.S. government is considering to offer Turkey a deal in which Ankara would stop a second Gaza flotilla that is due to depart later this month in exchange for the opportunity to host an Israeli-Palestinian peace summit in Ankara, the Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman reported Friday.
Israel has been preparing to block the second aid flotilla sailing from Turkey to Gaza, one year after the Israel Defense Forces' deadly raid on the first Gaza flotilla in which nine Turkish activists died. Turkey has demanded Israel apologize for the raid in order to restore Turkish-Israeli ties.
Today's Zaman quoted the Turkish Hurriyet daily as reporting that the U.S. was due to officially ask Turkey to host a major peace conference in return for mending its ties with Israel and preventing the second Gaza-bound flotilla. The proposed peace summit would be similar to past major talks such as the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference and the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords.
According to Hurriyet, U.S. officials have been trying to get a sense of how Turkey would react to such a proposal, and one U.S. official said that Ankara seems unlikely to accept the offer without Israel apologizing for the IDF raid.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel prefers a diplomatic move to thwart the flotilla expected at the end of June, but if necessary would exercise force against anyone who tries to disobey the navy's orders and head to Gaza's shore.
The Israel Navy has held takeover drills and mobilized reserve combatants, on the assumption the large number of vessels (about 15 ) planning to take part in the flotilla will require reinforcements. The preparations include intelligence surveillance, based mainly on open communications and Internet sites.
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