ANKARA (Agence France-Presse)—Turkey summoned a top U.S. diplomat to complain about what it saw as an attempt to define the mandate of a U.N. probe on Israel’s deadly raid on Gaza-bound aid ships, a Turkish diplomat said Wednesday.
Doug Silliman, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Ankara, was called to the Foreign Ministry on Monday “for a reprimand,” after U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon announced the creation of a four-member panel to investigate the raid that killed eight Turks and one Turkish-American, the diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The reprimand was delivered over comments by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, in which she said the U.N. inquiry was “not a substitute” for national investigations being carried out by Israel and Turkey.
“The United States is viewing the commission from a narrow perspective. [Rice’s] statement was one that seemed to give the impression the U.S. was determining the commission’s work,” the diplomat said.
Ankara also objected to the U.S. view that the panel was meant to mend once-strong Turkish-Israeli ties that plunged into crisis following the May 31 raid on the aid ships.
“The raid is an issue between the international community and Israel, and not between Turkey and Israel. There were people from 30 different countries on those ships,” the diplomat said.
“This commission is tasked with investigating the incident. Its duty is not to absolve Israel or improve Turkish-Israeli ties,” he added.
The Israeli raid resulted in the death of eight Turks and one American of Turkish descent on the flotilla’s lead ship, the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara, dealing a heavy blow to Turkish-Israeli ties.
Ankara denounced the raid as a violation of international law, immediately recalled its ambassador and canceled three planned joint military exercises with Israel.
Although Turkey has welcomed the U.N. probe, it says it expects Israel to apologize over the raid, pay compensation for the victims and lift the blockade of Gaza for the recovery of bilateral ties