Thursday Dec 22, 201106:55 PM GMT
Israel-favored UN draft angers Turkey
Sat May 14, 2011 9:27AM
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Nine Turkish activists were killed during a pre-dawn raid by Israeli naval commandos on May 31, 2010.
Turkey has threatened to drop out of a UN panel investigating Israel's deadly attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, following the release of an Israel-favored draft report over the incident.

The United Nations inquiry panel has released a draft report of its findings, days before making its results officially public, Turkey's Hürriyet daily reported on Friday.

Ankara says the draft clearly favors Tel Aviv, as its wording falls short of condemning Israel for violating international law. Turkey has threatened to drop out of the UN panel unless drastic changes are made to the draft.

On May 31, 2010, nine Turkish activists were killed and about 50 others injured after Israeli commandos attacked the Mavi Marmara, one of several aid vessels in the Turkish-sponsored Freedom Flotilla, in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea.

The fleet, which was carrying approximately 750 human rights activists and around 10,000 tons of construction material, medical equipment and school supplies, planned to break Israel's deadly siege on the Gaza Strip.

The activists were subsequently expelled and the cargoes transferred to the Israeli port of Ashdod south of Tel Aviv.

Reports, meanwhile, pointed to Israeli forces' appropriating and misusing the activists' personal belongings.

Relations between Turkey and Israel reached their lowest ebb ever following the incident.

Turkey says relations with Tel Aviv will resume only after Israel apologizes for the attack and pays compensation to the victims' families.

Israel has remained defiant, calling its internationally-condemned assault on the activists an act of self-defense.

Following the controversy, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon set up a four-member review panel in August 2010, led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer.

The panel listened to the representatives for the last time late April and was expected to make its findings public this month.

The development comes as a new Gaza-bound flotilla prepares to set sail to the impoverished coastal sliver in mid-June.

Israel has so far urged Europe to do all it can to prevent its nationals from taking part in the international “peace” flotilla, which comprises of more than 15 ships.

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