UN Delays Flotilla Report as Jerusalem and Ankara Keep Talking

PM also cancels meeting slated to discuss apology.

The release of the United Nations report on last year's Gaza flotilla deaths will be postponed yet again in order to allow Israel and Turkey to continue negotiating toward a detente in their relations.

The release of the report on the deaths of nine Turkish activists aboard the Gaza-blockade busting Mavi Marmara ship had been expected to take place on Wednesday. However, following an Israeli request it was delayed for three more weeks, to August 20, according to a senior Israeli official.

Weekly cabinet meeting - AP - July 2011

This is the third time in two months the release of the report has been put off.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak hinted yesterday morning at the postponement during a visit at the Tel Hashomer recruit induction center.

"I hope that we do not have to give an answer this week and we will have more time to evaluate the issues in detail," Barak said, referring to whether Israel will accept the draft proposal for resolving the crisis, which includes a Turkish demand for an Israeli apology for the deaths. "Our supreme duty is to preserve the honor of the State of Israel and the understanding that the blockade [on Gaza], the blocking of the flotilla and the use of force to stop the ships which refused to stop ... and head for Ashdod [port] was just. We have a priority to protect the officers, the field commanders and the soldiers from the possibility of international lawsuits. This is the reality in which we must weigh our actions."

The eight can wait

Yesterday at noon the eight ministers of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's inner cabinet of eight minister had been scheduled to meet in order to discuss the proposal for resolving the crisis with Turkey.

However, the ministers were informed that the topic of discussion had changed. It is unclear whether the postponement stems from progress or difficulties in the talks with Ankara.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said yesterday at the start of the cabinet meeting that his party, Yisrael Beiteinu, would not leave the coalition even if Israel does apologize to Turkey.

"Improving relations is a bilateral interest and we should not have to apologize to the Turks. We are not ready to accept dictates and the ball is in their court," he said. "Even if there are disagreements on the issue of apologizing to Turkey, I wish to calm you. The coalition is stable and strong ... no one is seeking excuses to leave the government."