Congress members urge Turkey to prevent flotilla

A bipartisan slate of U.S. House of Representatives lawmakers urged Turkey to do what it could to prevent another flotilla from reaching the Gaza Strip.

The letter sent Wednesday to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and spearheaded by Reps. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and Tom Cole (R-Ok.)  and signed by 36 members noted reports that the same Turkey-based organization that organized the May 2010 flotilla was planning another.

“We ask you to help discourage these efforts and work with the Israeli government in a productive way as it continues to allow legitimate aid, but not weapons, to enter Gaza,” said the letter.

The letter said Israel had made efforts recently to increase the flow of aid into Gaza while ensuring that weapons did not reach its Hamas rulers.

“We are seeking your active participation in finding a resolution that prevents violence,” it said.

Israeli commandoes raided the flotilla on May 31 of last year, killing nine Turks, including one Turkish American.

The flotilla, the raid and the fallout precipitated a crisis in Israel-Turkish relations.

Half the signatories, including Cole, are members of the Caucus on U.S. Turkish Relations and Turkish Americans.