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New Turkey-Israel talks to be held in New York

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News | 7/8/2011 12:00:00 AM | Fulya Özerkan

Having failed to resolve their differences during three-day talks this week, Turkey and Israel will hold another round of negotiations later this month in New York. The stalemate has delayed the release of a U.N. report on the death of nine people onboard a Gaza-bound Turkish vessel last year, the subject of the strife.

Having failed to resolve their differences during three-day talks this week, Turkey and Israel will hold another round of negotiations later this month in New York. The stalemate has delayed the release of a U.N. report on the death of nine people onboard a Gaza-bound Turkish vessel last year, the subject of the strife.

“The talks are expected to be concluded in late July,” Özdem Sanberk, the Turkish member of the U.N. panel investigating the Israeli raid on the aid ship Mavi Marmara, told the Hürriyet Daily News.

The schedule of the next round of negotiations is not set yet but the talks will take place in New York, said Sanberk. “There has been no change in the negotiating team.” Turkey was represented in this week’s talks by Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu, Ambassador Mithat Rende and Sanberk.

The U.N. panel, which includes two international experts as well as Turkish and Israeli representatives, is expected to submit its report to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon before July 27. The two countries’ officials are supposed to resolve the deadlock by that time.

The disagreements between the two parties regarding the content of the report prevented its release on schedule as its findings can be publicized only after a consensus is reached among the panel’s four members.

Turkey’s demand for a formal apology from Israel for its deadly raid on the Mavi Marmara remains a sticking point in the talks, but sources told the Daily News that this is not the only problem.

Ankara opposes any expression in the report that legalizes the naval blockade imposed on Gaza and provides it with the right to intervene with all ships aiming to break the blockade. It also objects to any document that falls short of a U.N. Human Rights Council report that called Israel’s action against the Gaza-bound flotilla “unlawful.”

Both Turkey and Israel see a window of opportunity to mend fences amid the regional unrest. Observers say a compromise will benefit both sides, increasing Ankara’s leverage as a U.N. vote on Palestinian statehood looms in September and expanding its room to maneuver in regional peace mediation efforts.

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