ISTANBUL (Hürriyet Daily News)—Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) issued a call for Turkey to be held responsible for the planned launching of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla organized by a group he calls a “terrorist organization.”
In a policy recommendation report authored by Kirk and obtained by the Hürriyet Daily News on Wednesday night, Kirk calls on the U.S. to adopt three measures to deal with the planned Gaza-bound flotilla, including labeling the flotilla organizers, the nongovernmental organization İHH, a terrorist organization; offering U.S. naval support to Israel to block the flotilla; and expressing to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that Turkey will be held accountable for the flotilla’s actions.
“The United States should … make it clear to Turkish [Prime Minister] Erdoğan that Turkey will be held accountable for any actions that support or enable the İHH to launch its flotilla,” the report said.
“I don’t think that’s a fair assessment,” said Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selçuk Ünal, who reiterated the Turkish government’s position that the aid flotilla was being organized outside the scope of government policy by an international group of nongovernmental organizations with no known connections to terrorist organizations.
The U.S. should “immediately designate the İHH as a terrorist entity under Executive Order 13224, which targets ‘terrorists, terrorist organizations, and those providing financial, technological, or material support to terrorists, terrorist organizations, or acts of terrorism,’” according to the Kirk report, entitled “The Future of Israel’s Security and the U.S.-Israel Relationship.”
The report also included other policy recommendations based on the senator’s recent “intense fact-finding mission to Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan.”
According to the Kirk report, last year’s flotilla “violently attempted to breach Israel’s coastal security.” In case the events of last year repeat themselves, Kirk suggests that the U.S. make its naval forces available to support Israel.
The U.S. should “make available all necessary special operations and naval support to the Israeli Navy to effectively disable flotilla vessels before they can pose a threat to Israeli coastal security or put Israeli lives at risk,” the report said.
In advance of this year’s planned flotilla, 36 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to Erdoğan last month, saying he had “unique opportunity to potentially save lives,” by discouraging the flotilla from leaving for Gaza. Earlier this month Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu suggested that “the aid flotilla should also wait to see what happens with the Rafah [Gaza-Egypt] border crossing being opened.”