Turkey Denied Netanyahu Effort to Delay Release of Gaza Flotilla Report

Turkey claims Netanyahu attempting to buy time, add that they prefer an unfavorable report over waiting another two fruitless months; Palmer Report due to be published on Friday September 2.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested a few days ago that the Palmer Report on the Israel Defense Forces' raid of a Gaza-bound flotilla in which nine Turkish activists were killed, be delayed by six months.

The suggestion was made to the Turkish government and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, but Haaretz has learned that the Turkish government rejected Netanyahu's proposal, claiming it was not serious.

Netanyahu - AP - August 7, 2011

The UN investigative committee into the raid, headed by Geoffrey Palmer, is now due to publish the report this Friday, September 2.

The Palmer Report on the events that occurred on board the Turkish aid ship Mavi Marmara in 2010 has been delayed three times already, each time with the agreement of both Israel and Turkey, who made joint requests of the UN Secretary-General.

According to an official in Jerusalem, Netanyahu's latest suggestion to postpone the report's publication by six months was not warmly welcomed by the Turks.

Turkey saw Netanyahu's suggestion as an attempt to avoid reaching a decision on the reconciliation agreement and to stall progress. They explained that despite how problematic the report is for them, they would prefer for it to be published on September 2 than to wait another two grueling months, at the end of which it is not at all certain that Netanyahu would agree to apologize for what happened on board the Mavi Marmara.

An outline of the reconciliation agreement has already been approved by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and includes a softened Israeli apology for the events that occurred onboard the ship, in return for normalized relations with Turkey and a commitment on Turkey's behalf not to take legal proceedings personally against the Israeli soldiers and officers involved.

Turkey has said that if Israel does not apologize, it will carry out a series of actions detrimental to Israel-Turkey relations and that it would take legal action against Israel.

Netanyahu has avoided making a firm decision for a number of months regarding how Israel will deal with the situation.

He told senior American officials that despite that he is interested in accepting the outline of the agreement and apologizing to Turkey, he feared such a move would lead Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to withdraw from the coalition.

After Lieberman said he would not withdraw from the coalition, even if a decision was made to apologize to Turkey, Netanyahu changed his reasoning for postponing the report's publication, telling the Americans that he is not able to apologize, for he is under political pressure owing to the social protests.

Two weeks ago he informed U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Israel would not apologize for the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid. Speaking with Clinton via telephone, Netanayhu said that Israel does not intend to adopt an outline to restore its relationship with Turkey.

An official in Jerusalem said that Netanyahu told Clinton that Israel does not oppose the publication of the Palmer Committee's report, but that the date of the report's release depends on Ban Ki-moon.