Israel offered $6 million to victims of Gaza flotilla raid, say Turkish lawyers (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Zvi Bar´el and Reuters 05/25/12)05/25/12)
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A Turkish lawyer said on Thursday that Israel had offered to pay $6
million to victims of Israel´s storming of a Gaza-bound Turkish aid
flotilla to settle lawsuits against the Israeli military.
Ramazan Ariturk, one of several lawyers representing 465 victims and
victims´ relatives, told Reuters that the Israeli government had made
a proposal to him through an intermediary foreign ambassador in
Ankara just over one month ago.
He said the money would have been paid to a Jewish foundation in
Turkey for distribution, and been followed by a statement of "regret"
for the raid by the Israeli government.
"I told the ambassador I did not think the offer was appropriate or
moral and also discussed the issue with the victims and their friends
and they also stated that they could not accept this," Ariturk said.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry agreed with his decision, saying Israel
should have contacted it directly, he said. Ariturk declined to
disclose the nationality of the ambassador or reveal the name of the
Jewish foundation to which the payment would have been made.
However, a senior Israeli official who declined to be named said that
Israel, having indicated last year that it was prepared to indemnify
victims without accepting blame, had not renewed its offer.
Sources in the Turkish foreign ministry told Haaretz that they had
not been officially approached by any Israeli officials,
although, "If Israel had presented such an offer, it would have been
considered seriously. In principal, there is no problem, to arrive at
an understanding over the issue of damages, and actually a year ago
we already reached an agreement over how to pay out damages, and
according to this agreement, payment will be made through the Turkish
government, and not directly to families in order to prevent
recurring claims and long legal proceedings."
"However, controversy still remains the question of apology. Israel
is opposed to declaring publicly that it apologizes and Turkey is not
prepared to accept a wording of regret that does not include taking
responsibility, that is required in an expression of apology," the
Israeli commandos stormed the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara ship to enforce
a naval blockade of the Palestinian-run Gaza Strip in May 2010. Nine
Turks were killed in clashes aboard the ship.
The raid proved a watershed moment in Israel-Turkey relations, with
the once staunch allies trading blame over responsibility for the
incident. Turkey has insisted that Israel apologize for the raid and
its consequences, as well as pay reparations to the families of those
Turkey expelled Israel´s ambassador and froze all military
cooperation with its former ally after a UN report into the incident
last September largely exonerated Israel.
Turkey has demanded a formal apology from Israel alongside
compensation for victims and the families of the dead, but Netanyahu
has only voiced "regret".
On Wednesday an Istanbul prosecutor submitted an indictment seeking
life sentences for four former Israeli military commanders in
connection with the raid, including the Chief of General Staff at the
The UN report on the raid last September was meant to encourage a
rapprochement but ultimately deepened the rift when it concluded
Israel had used unreasonable force but that its blockade of Gaza was
Israel said its marines had been attacked by activists wielding metal
bars, clubs and knives when they boarded the Mavi Marmara, and had
opened fire in self-defense. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 05/25/12)
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