Published 05:20 02.07.10 - Latest update 05:20 02.07.10
Turkey FM under fire at home for secret talks with Israeli minister 

Two ministers tried to hammer out version of the apology Turkey is demanding 
over Israel deadly flotilla raid, Turkish sources report.
By Jonathan Lis 
The meeting between Industry, Trade and Labor Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and Turkish 
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu this week stirred up a storm not only in 
Israel. Although there was no official comment and the Turkish leadership is 
maintaining a polite silence, the Turkish opposition is going to town. 

A member of an opposition party told Haaretz that "Now [Turkish Prime Minister 
Recep Tayyip] Erdogan's real face is revealed. After his loud comments about 
Israel he is willing to hold secret talks with the country." 

        Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, Turkish FM Ahmet Davutoglu. 
      Photo by: AP  

Turkish sources reported that during the meeting the two ministers tried to 
hammer out an acceptable version of the apology Turkey is demanding from 
Israel, as well as agree on compensation for the families of those killed in 
Israel's raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla. "There has to be a clear Israeli 
statement that is not just an expression of regret at the deaths of the 
victims," one Turkish source stated. 

The meeting, which took place in the Crowne Plaza hotel in Brussels in a room 
ordered under an assumed name, fits Davutoglu's stance. The Turkish foreign 
minister had originally asked the Turkish aid organization IHH to postpone the 
flotilla and allow the government to reach an agreement with Israel. 

Davutoglu was concerned that such aid organizations might force Turkey into a 
foreign policy that conflicts with its own strategic interests. However, these 
organizations enjoy broad public support and can impact elections. 

Davutoglu also believes both that Israel's response was disproportionate and 
that it is not in Turkey's interests to create an irreparable rift between the 
countries. This contradicts the position of several senior members of the 
ruling party who - more than they want to penalize Israel - fear a boosted 
Davutoglu seeking party leadership if not the premiership, should Erdogan run 
for the presidency. 

Meanwhile, a Turkish human rights organization announced that preliminary 
findings indicate that some of the victims were killed by gunfire from inside 
Israel Navy helicopters and not by soldiers who had boarded the ship. 

They cite the angle of the wounds and the type of head wounds of some victims. 
However, because the bodies were washed before they were transferred to Turkey, 
it is difficult to determine if they were shot from close or long range. 

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