23 August 2012 / GÖZDE NUR DONAT, ANKARA
Israel will not assign lawyers for a trial in which four top Israeli commanders are facing charges for their role in a 2010 Israeli attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that left nine Turks dead, Today's Zaman has learned.
The İstanbul 7th High Criminal Court has already decided to instruct the İstanbul Bar Association to appoint lawyers for the suspects, as noted in court proceedings.
An indictment prepared by İstanbul prosecutors seeks 10 aggravated life sentences for each of the four Israeli commanders, including the country's former Chief of General Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. The other officers are former Naval Forces commander Vice Adm. Eliezer Marom, former Israeli military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin and former Air Force intelligence head, Brig. Gen. Avishai Levi. The court will also invite an expert who speaks Hebrew to court. The trial will begin on Nov. 6.
Meanwhile, Nizar Amer, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Ankara, emphasized that the issue of the Mavi Marmara should be solved through dialogue between Turkey and Israel.
“This issue should be solved through a dialogue between the two parties. It is a matter of international relations with some legal aspects,” Amer maintained.
“What we are trying to promote, as our [Israeli] prime minister said, is that we are willing to talk and solve this issue through dialogue,” he said, reiterating the recent positive messages sent by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during an interview with a group of Turkish journalists in Jerusalem.
Ankara wants an official apology from Israel for the raid and calls for the lifting of the Gaza blockade, but both demands have been rejected by the Israeli government so far. With the increased tensions, Turkey has expelled the Israeli ambassador and suspended all military agreements it had with the country.
The deterioration in relations between Turkey and Israel, which previously enjoyed rather good relations at all levels, started at the end of 2008 when Israel, which was on the verge of concluding a peace agreement with Syria with Turkey acting as mediator, suddenly bombarded the Gaza Strip in a devastating assault, angering Turkey and therefore eliminating all hopes for peace between Syria and Israel.
It is likely Turkey felt deceived at the time and had the impression that its efforts to bring about peace were not given due respect by Israel. Then came the Davos summit in Switzerland in January 2009, where Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke out against Shimon Peres for bombarding Gaza and walked out of the forum. Then in May 2010 came the raid by Israeli soldiers on the Mavi Marmara that led to the deaths of eight Turkish civilians and one Turkish-American.