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Turkey Says UN Plans Inquiry Into Gaza Aid Convoy Deaths

Turkey said the United Nations plans to set up a five-person commission to investigate the deaths of nine Turks when Israel seized ships bringing aid to Gaza.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the commission today in a telephone conversation with UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-Moon, Turkey’s Anatolia state news agency reported. The commission will have members from Turkey and Israel as well as others appointed by the UN and will be headed by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer according to Anatolia, which didn’t say how it got the information.

“The Secretary General has been in consultation on the way forward on that, and as soon as we have something to announce I’m sure we’ll get it out widely,” New York-based UN spokeswoman Marie Okabe said in a phone interview today.

Turkey has demanded an independent inquiry into the deaths on May 31 and said Israel must lift its blockade of Gaza or risk permanent damage to relations with Turkey. Israel says it attempted to prevent clashes with the aid flotilla by issuing numerous warnings beforehand to change course toward the port of Ashdod and unload there.

Israel says the blockade is meant to prevent the smuggling of rockets and weapons into Hamas-ruled Gaza and insists the Palestinian coastal enclave is receiving sufficient aid.

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