Ma'an News Agency
July 26, 2011 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- A UN report into Israel's deadly 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, which was to have been published later this week, has been delayed once again, an Israeli official said on Monday.

"The secretary-general asked to delay the publication of the report," foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, referring to the UN chief, Ban Ki-moon.

But he refused to confirm reports suggesting Israel had requested the delay in a bid to have more time to mend its relations with Ankara, devastated since the flotilla raid in which Israeli forces killed nine Turks.

"The secretary-general has decided to postpone the publication of the report and he decided to consult both sides before taking the decision," Palmor said.

Israeli newspaper Maariv on Monday suggested the UN study, known as the Palmer report, will now be released on Aug. 20.

It was the second time that publication of the long-awaited report had been delayed. It was initially to have been released around July 8 but was postponed in order to give the two sides more time to talk.

Turkey says relations between the two can only be restored if Israel apologizes for the raid, compensates the families of those killed and the injured, and lifts its blockade on the Gaza Strip.

But Israel has consistently refused to apologize, although behind the scenes, officials say they are keen to restore ties.

Israeli cabinet ministers are split over the issue of an apology with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon dead set against, while Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor are in favor.

Defense officials have also reportedly advised the government to apologize, as has Israel's Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, the Haaretz newspaper reported last week.

Over the weekend, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said without an apology, it would be "unthinkable" to normalize relations with Israel.

Erdogan has also recently raised the idea of paying a visit to Gaza -- in a move press reports suggested would take place if Israel continues to refuse to apologize.

Visiting the Hamas-run Gaza Strip would most likely further exacerbate tensions with Israel.


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