WASHINGTON – The United States urged Israel and Turkey on Friday to mend fences as relations soured to a new low over Israel’s 2010 raid on a Gaza aid flotilla that left nine Turkish nationals dead.
The US call came after a UN report slammed the “excessive” force used in the raid. No apology was forthcoming from Israel so Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador to Ankara and suspended all military ties with its one-time ally.
The United States “has longstanding friendships with both Israel and Turkey,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, adding: “We regret that prior to the publication of the report they were unable to reach agreement on steps that might have helped overcome their differences.”
Washington, she said, hoped the two countries “will continue to look for opportunities to improve their longstanding relationship, and we will encourage both to work towards that end.”
The UN investigation, headed by former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer, said in its report that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is legal and that the flotilla organizers had acted “recklessly” in trying the mission.
“As we have said many times, the United States deeply regrets the tragic loss of life and injuries suffered among those involved in the incident,” said Nuland.