Turkey and Israel are still in talks, as the two sides remain deadlocked over their positions on last year's deadly Mavi Marmara incident.. But regional unrest in the Middle East and North Africa is pushing both Ankara and Tel Aviv to stay at the negotiation table.

Israeli commandos attacked the Mavi Marmara ship on May 31, 2010, resulting in the death of eight Turks and one Turkish-American.

Although the two parties insist on sticking to their positions in the negotiations aimed at hammering out a formula to repair troubled relations, they remain deadlocked, and regional unrest in the Middle East is pushing both Turkey and Israel to move ahead.

Turkish and Israeli officials on Thursday continued another round of negotiations in New York in a bid to restore their bilateral relationship as the draft version of a controversial UN report included elements that satisfied neither of the parties.

The Hürriyet Daily News has learned that the Turkish delegation, made up of Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu, Ambassador Mithat Rende and the Turkish member of the UN panel, Özdem Sanberk, are still in New York, while Israel's deputy prime minister, Moshe Ya'alon, went home. Sources said talks have not ceased, however, and Israel is being represented by its diplomats and legal advisors.

It was not yet clear when the report of the UN panel investigating last year's deadly of the Mavi Marmara, would be released by the time the Hürriyet Daily News went to print yesterday. Turkish and Israeli diplomats said all was within the realm of possibility.

"The report may not come out," Sanberk told the Daily News on Thursday. "It depends on the negotiations today." Well-informed sources said the report was ready. The draft version embodies elements that dissatisfy both parties. It has been learned that the report criticizes the Israeli military for using excessive force against the activists onboard the Mavi Marmara, saying that Israeli explanations for resorting to physical force were not sufficient, citing the autopsy reports of the nine victims submitted to the UN panel by the Turkish side. That has been found "unacceptable" by the Israeli side, it has been learned.

İHH and Turkish Government

The report also says Israel's blockade on Gaza is legal under international law, providing Israel with the right to intervene on all ships trying to break the blockade. The Turkish side objects to this judgment. The report is said to be quoting the Israeli argument that the Turkish government did not do enough to stop the ship, citing links between the nongovernmental Turkish aid group that organized the flotilla, the İHH, and the Turkish government.

The UN report can only be released after a consensus is reached among its four members. As the two sides found unacceptable elements in it, it was not clear if the document could be released on schedule. Ankara, however, is objecting to any document that falls short of the UN Human Rights Council report that called Israel's action against the Gaza flotilla "unlawful."

Turkey's demand for a formal apology from Israel's deadly raid on the Mavi Marmara remains a sticking point in talks. Israel insists on not using the word "apology," which would imply that Tel Aviv takes responsibility, possibly leading to moral and legal consequences. The Israeli press reported that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan instructed the Turkish negotiating team not to backtrack on the apology condition.

"Our position is to have our demands met on an apology and compensation for the nine citizens of ours that died," Sanberk said. Momentum is behind Turkey and Israel's efforts to heal last year's rift. as the unrest sweeping the Middle East and North Africa is a source of concern for both countries, according to sources. Turkey particularly is warily watching the developments in Syria, while Israel is cautiously watching post-revolution developments in Egypt.


Israel, Turkey Reconciliation Talks Collapse: Israeli Official

Talks between Israel and Turkey meant to repair ties strained by a fatal attempt to breach Israel's Gaza blockade have collapsed, an Israeli official said on Thursday.

The talks were being held ahead of a UN report which the Haaretz newspaper said listed faults of both sides' handling of the issue, in which Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish nationals.

The official, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity, said that intensive talks in New York and Geneva failed to produce a compromise between Turkey's demand for an Israeli apology and Israel's refusal to go further than to express regret for the deaths of the nine Turkish activists last May.

The Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara was leading a flotilla carrying activists seeking to reach the coastal Palestinian territory in defiance of Israeli orders to turn back, when Israeli marines stormed it, killing the nine Turks.

The Israeli official said that the UN commission of inquiry, chaired by former New Zealand premier Brian Palmer, found that the blockade, which Israel says is essential to stop arms reaching the strip's militant Islamic Hamas rulers, was legal. Turkey argued that it was not.

The UN report had been expected to be released on Thursday, the Israeli official said, but publication had been delayed, ostensibly because of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's absence from New York, but in reality to give Israel and Turkey more time to come to an agreement. He said, however, that no further talks between the sides were scheduled.

Israeli media said that Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon, who led the Israeli delegation in the New York talks, had returned home. "That is because the Turks continue to demand an apology from Israel for the killing of Turkish civilians," the mass-circulation Daily Maariv said.

Haaretz said that drafts of the report on the May 2010 incident in which Israel's marines stormed the Turkish lead ship of an international flotilla, lists faults on both sides.

"Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem who saw the draft report said it sharply criticizes Turkey for not doing enough to prevent the flotilla from setting sail," the paper said. "The report says Israeli commandos used excessive force against the Mavi Marmara's passengers, though Israel had insisted the soldiers had been attacked and were acting in self-defense."


EU Opens Information Center in Eastern Turkish Province

The European Union opened an information center in the eastern province of Erzurum Thursday. The Head of the EU delegation in Turkey, Marc Pierini, attended the inauguration of the EU information center. Pierini said the EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fule will pay a visit to Turkey next Monday. Pierini said the introduction of an EU ministry in Turkey had been welcomed by the EU.


Former Head of Turkey Broadcast Watchdog to Testify

Zahid Akman, former head of Turkey's television and radio broadcast supervisor, is expected to testify to prosecutors in a probe over an alleged fraud in a Germany-based charity accused of funneling millions of euros into Turkey. Akman, who was arrested on Wednesday, spent the night behind bars at a police station together with 4 other suspects. Prosecutors will ask them around 500 questions.

Five to Six Percent Growth Ideal for Turkey

Bankasi Director General Adnan Bali said that the basic element in economic growth was stability. He said, "first, you grow very much, then, shrinkage comes, and difficulties appear. This time, you cannot catch 5.5 percent growth rate." Bali noted that 5 to 6 percent growth range was sustainable.

Turkey Repays $117 Million of Foreign Debt in Week

Turkey repaid $117.07 million of foreign debt between July 1 and 6, the Central Bank said on Thursday.

According to Central Bank's weekly data, total debt repaid by the Turkish Treasury alone was $100.19 million.

Since the beginning of the year, Turkey has made a foreign debt payment of $7.4 billion.

Turkey repaid a total of $13.32 billion in foreign debt in 2010.


CHP Wants Solution to Oath Crisis, Turkish Opposition Leader Says

The leader of Turkey's main opposition has said his party does not want to create a parliamentary gridlock following an important meeting with the legislature's newly elected speaker on Thursday.

"We do not mean to boycott Parliament, we are trying to overcome this shameful act against democracy," Republican People's Party, or CHP, leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Kılıçdaroğlu met with speaker Cemil Çiçek in order to discuss a solution to the crisis that arose after CHP deputies refused to take the parliamentary oath in response to the continued incarceration of elected CHP deputies.

He said they had difficulty explaining to civilized nations why not convicted deputies were not released from arrest following their election.

"Our friends were not convicted, they are under arrest," Kılıçdaroğlu said, noting that only a conviction could prevent someone from becoming a deputy.

"The prime minister and the president expressed their disapproval of long-term arrests. The European Union is also unhappy with the situation, as well as the opposition in Turkey. Then why are we not solving this problem?" Kılıçdaroğlu said. "Let us get together and solve this problem."

Kılıçdaroğlu said Çiçek agreed with him and extended his support to search for a solution, which could include convening party group representatives to discuss a way out of the crisis.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan commented on the crisis after Kılıçdaroğlu's statements, saying, "They [CHP] should take the oath and join the Parliament."


Turkish PM Says Government Not Authorized to Give Assurances

Turkey's prime minister said on Thursday that the government was not authorized to give assurances when commenting on main opposition leader's remarks.

Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, "If the judiciary gives assurances, they can resort to judicial organs. Otherwise, we are not authorized to give any assurance," Erdogan said.

Erdogan's remarks came after the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu said, "W will take oath at parliament if they assure us."

Erdogan said whether or not to take oath at Parliament was a decision to be made by opposition parties.

On June 28, CHP boycotted the oath-taking ceremony at Parliament to protest a court ruling that blocked its jailed deputies from swearing in at the Parliament.


Turkish Constitutional Court Rejects Dicle Application

Turkey's Constitutional Court rejected Thursday an application by victorious pro-Kurdish election candidate Hatip Dicle to overrule a lower court ruling that had prevented the politician from taking his seat in Parliament.

The court's statement said it was not authorized to look into the case and had therefore chosen to reject the matter.

Dicle was elected as an independent deputy in the June 12 elections, but the Supreme Election Board, or YSK, ruled that a previous conviction precluded him from being granted deputy status.

The board had ruled before the polls that Dicle should not stand for election, but following an appeal, a court overruled his conviction, clearing the way for him to stand and win in the elections.


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