Israel's infrastructure minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer met Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu secretly in Zurich Wednesday, June 30 in an effort to alleviate the crisis in relations. The meeting took place with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's knowledge. It was kept dark from foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, who issued a statement Wednesday night that he considered the meeting a betrayal of trust between the prime minister and himself.
debkafile reports that the secret rendezvous ended predictably without results because Turkey's campaign against Israel is in full flight and it refused to budge an inch from its demands for an Israeli apology over the flotilla incident, its removal of the sea blockade against the Gaza Strip and compensation to the nine Turks killed in the clash with Israel commandos aboard the Turkish Mavi Marmara on May 31.
The initiative for this rendezvous was taken in Ankara as a mark of the Israeli government's weakness.
As Ben-Eliezer headed for his meeting with Davutoglu, Erdogan's implacable anti-Israel campaign was underlined by foreign ministry spokesman Burak Ozgergin's vow in Ankara that very day: The (Turkish) public," he said, "will see in step after step (taken by Turkey) how Ankara gets Israel to admit its crimes."
He noted that Turkey had not once, but twice denied Israeli military planes entry to Turkish airspace.
debkafile's sources report that this verbal assault was consistent with the "revelation" unveiled Monday, June 28, by the Turkish MAZLUM-DER organization, also known as The Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples, just before Erdogan flew home from Toronto where he attended the G20 summit and had a disastrous interview with US president Barack Obama.
The MAZLUM-DER spokesman Yasin Divrak suddenly alleged that the nine Turks who died in a clash aboard the Gaza blockade-busting Mavi Marmara on May 31 were killed by shots from Israeli helicopters. He strongly challenged the Israeli case and its video footage attesting to Israeli commandos fighting back when set upon with knives and axes by violent activists as they landed on deck.
The spokesman of MAZLUM-DER, which has an anti-Israel extremist record, presented four arguments to support his charge of Israeli war crimes:
1. Examinations of the bodies in Ankara showed that the victims were not killed by the commandos in self- defense but by helicopters, meaning that the Israelis shot first.
2. Autopsies showed some of the Turkish dead were shot several times in the head, i.e., from above, from the air. The Turkish "peace activists" were therefore "executed."
3. The returned Turkish bodies were washed in alcohol to conceal evidence of gunpowder or chemical substances allegedly used by the naval commandos.
4. In all the bodies except one, the fatal bullets were not found. One bullet was found lodged in the brain of the activist Ibrahim Bilgen. It was of type which the Turkish doctors and ballistic experts said they had never seen before. The spokesman implied that this particular bullet was left in place as an Israel warning of what Turkey should expect if more flotillas were sent to Gaza.
According to debkafile's Ankara sources, this piece of "evidence" is part of the dossier the Turks are stacking up for the international inquiry commission they intend demanding the UN General Assembly establish to investigate the flotilla incident. They need this extra probe to undermine the credibility and legitimacy of the public inquiry Israel has instituted by jurists and two international observers.
The Turkish prime minister is seriously on the warpath against Israel, after failing in their frigid interview in Toronto to persuade President Barack Obama to accept his alignment with the extremist Iran, Syria and Hizballah and his hostile breach with Israel.
Obama confronted him with two options: friendship with Washington or deepening his bonds with Tehran.
Erdogan returned home with his mind made up. He would not capitulate to Washington and he was more determined than ever to provoke a showdown with Israel.
One of his first steps, according to our Ankara sources, will be to go around UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon and submit to the UN Assembly on behalf of Turkey, Iran and Syria a draft calling for an international committee to investigate Israel's conduct in its May 31 raid on the Turkish flotilla. They can count on an automatic anti-Israel majority for its passage.
Observers in New York expect a panel of the same make-up and anti-Israel bias as the one headed by South African justice Goldstone which was tasked with investigating Israel's 2009 campaign in the Gaza Strip.
The Turkish prime minister believes Ban will not demur and even the Obama administration may come around to it, although Washington originally praised Israel's public inquiry, to which two reputable foreign observers had been attached, as fully meeting the UN Security Council's requirements for a credible, impartial, transparent investigation.
Ankara's move is aimed at intensifying Israel's diplomatic isolation in the world body.
To pre-empt it, the Netanyahu government decided this week to expand the mandate of the flotilla investigation panel headed by retired Justice Jacob Turkel. The next cabinet meeting will empower the commission to subpoena witnesses, question them under oath, issue letters of caution and have free access to any evidence needed to execute its mission.