In a conference at the end of his visit to Turkey, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has launched an unexpectedly strong attack on the conditions in Israeli-blockaded Gaza.
He described the territory as "a prison camp" and said that the recent Israeli security forces raid on a flotilla of aid ships bound for the territory was "totally unacceptable."
The PM declared: “Turkey's relationships in the [Middle East] region, both with Israel and with the Arab world, are of incalculable value. No other country has the same potential to build understanding between Israel and the Arab world. I know that Gaza has led to real strains in Turkey's relationship with Israel. But Turkey is a friend of Israel. And I urge Turkey, and Israel, not to give up on that friendship. Let me be clear. The Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla was completely unacceptable. And I have told PM Netanyahu, we will expect the Israeli inquiry to be swift, transparent and rigorous. Let me also be clear that the situation in Gaza has to change. Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp. But as, hopefully, we move in the coming weeks to direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians so it's Turkey that can make the case for peace and Turkey that can help to press the parties to come together, and point the way to a just and viable solution.“
The denunciation will go down especially well in Turkey, which has had positive relations with Israel and wants to see the security and territorial integrity of both Israelis and Palestinians through a settlement in the region - but which has been angry and outraged by the flotilla assault.
The British government has welcomed the lessening of the crippling economic and humanitarian blockade on the territory, but wants Israel to remove it altogether.
Campaigners say that the US and European Union are not being rigorous enough in their pressure.
Also on Ekklesia: 'From Turkey to Gaza: Human rights and fundamental freedoms?', by Harry Hagopian - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/12413