Summit members condemn Israel over Gaza raid

ISTANBUL Tue Jun 8, 2010 2:26pm EDT

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad listens to a journalist's question during his news conference in Istanbul June 8, 2010. The nuclear fuel swap deal reached between Iran and Turkey and Brazil is an opportunity that will not be repeated, Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad listens to a journalist's question during his news conference in Istanbul June 8, 2010. The nuclear fuel swap deal reached between Iran and Turkey and Brazil is an opportunity that will not be repeated, Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday.

Credit: Reuters/Osman Orsal

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Leaders from the Middle East and Asia condemned Israel's raid on a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza at a summit on Tuesday, calling on the Jewish state to end its "inhuman" blockade of the Palestinian territory.

In a diplomatic coup for Turkey, all members of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) except Israel itself denounced it for last week's raid, in which 9 pro-Palestinian Turkish activists were killed.

"It's not possible for us to forgive this," Turkey's President Abdullah Gul, told a news conference at the end of the summit, which brought together Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syria's Bashar al-Assad, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, among others.

Gul said Israel could go some way toward repairing the damage arising from the raid by offering "acceptable restitution," but added: "This cannot be forgotten by Turkey."

A final declaration of the 20-member forum issued at the end of the two-day summit omitted any reference to Israel, which as a fellow member had objected to such mention.

But Gul, who as Turkey's president was also acting as chairman of CICA, read a separate declaration in which all members except Israel criticized Israel's actions.

"All member states except one expressed their great concern and condemnation for the actions undertaken by the Israeli defense forces against an international civilian flotilla transporting humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip," Gul said.

"In this context they stressed the urgency of lifting the inhuman blockade of the Gaza Strip."

Israel, to avoid exposing any senior official to Turkey's wrath, had sent its ambassador to the talks.

BREAKING POINT

Once close allies, relations between Israel and Turkey are close to the breaking point. Ankara has recalled its ambassador, canceled joint military exercises and said trade and defense deals worth billions of dollars will be reduced to "a minimum."

Ties between the two U.S. friends in the volatile region have been on a downward spiral since Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan began championing the Palestinian cause after an Israeli offensive in Gaza in December 2008.

Erdogan has said Israel will have to pay for killing Turks in the botched commando raid on a Turkish flagged ship in international waters.

Until recently, NATO member Turkey had largely avoided getting embroiled in conflicts in its eastern backyard as it pursued its goal of joining the European Union.

But Erdogan's willingness to confront Israel and his championing of the Palestinian cause has turned him into a hero in the Middle East -- with his name invoked at rallies and babies named in his honor.

PALESTINIAN STATE

All CICA members except Israel also called for an Israeli withdrawal from all Arab lands occupied in 1967, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Arab East Jerusalem as its capital and a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem on the basis of UN resolutions, Gul said.

CICA has been a low-key forum until now, but the timing of the Istanbul conference and the list of attendees transformed it into a platform for countries to launch verbal attacks against Israel and issue pledges of Muslim brotherhood.

Syria's Assad, whose country is not a CICA member but was attending as a guest, said "Turkish blood is not different from Arab blood," while Ahmadinejad accused Israel of going beyond "all boundaries in its disrespect for humanity."

Turkey, NATO's only Muslim member and a candidate to join the European Union, has sought to raise its international profile in recent years, mediating on issues ranging from ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan to Iran's nuclear program.

Its members include: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Palestine, Republic of Korea, Russia, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan.

On Wednesday, Arab League foreign ministers are due to meet in Istanbul for talks with their Turkish counterpart.

(Additional reporting by Jon Hemming in Istanbul; Writing by Ibon Villelabeitia; editing by Noah Barkin)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (15)
sdf wrote:
Considering the range of Iranian Missles, additional UN Sanctions are siding with the Iranian People despite a reckless leadership that does not recognize the limitations of their relative technical power.

The security counsel knows well the consequences of an irrational government in a cold-war nuclear scenario.

Iran’s leadership is a fine example of an wholly irrational government.

We, the rational world, have worked too hard for too long to allow a tyrant with a size five shoe to attempt to obtain regional first strike capability against peaceful global neighbors of strategic importance.

He wants to burn everyone’s flag.

Little foot wants a new cold war.

However, he is irrational as he has not considered that he is the loser, prior to the start of play.

Jun 08, 2010 9:37am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Heretic1 wrote:
Iran is perfectly rational. Its leadership wants to have modern nuclear energy plants and, possibly (although it is only an unfounded hypothesis), to have the means of nuclear deterrence. What is irrational about it?

Jun 08, 2010 10:32am EDT  --  Report as abuse
j8e8n0n3y wrote:
The President of Iran ,Mahmoud Ahmandinejad ; is a man with hysteria that will effect his ability to make a critical decision as the leader of the country . Because of his unruly behavior in the international affairs ; with his criticism of all the western countries including the EU , and now with the Russians in the list ; the world will have a very dangerous situation of falling into the nuclear war , an all out war between Iran and in the Middle East ; Israel on the assumptions of the big five in the United Nations Security Council ; were not able to sustain & control the Iran as with in the case of the N.Korea as well ; the Russians & the Chinese Governments that have economic ties with both Iran & N. Korea will not able to influence the two countries from further escalating into an outbreak of war in the Middle East & in the South East Asia ; between the S.Korea & the N. Korea .
With the hostilities from the two dictatorships countries such as Iran , N. Korea ; the Russians along with the People’s Republic of China ; must co-operate with the Western Powers to contain the ambitious Iran & N.Korea from further developing their nuclear arsenals with the short range & long range nuclear missiles .
The time is too critical for the Russians and the Chinese government to curtail their investment & selling the nuclear technologies & other military hardware to Iran & N. Korea .

Jun 08, 2010 11:09am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Full focus