Flotilla clashes should not derail Israeli-Palestinian peace talks: Barak

09:20, June 01, 2010      

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An injured person is evacuated to Rambam hospital in the northern city of Haifa, Israel, May 31, 2010. Clash happened on Monday morning between an international Gaza aid flotilla and Israeli navy, causing at least 19 casualties, Israeli military confirmed. (Xinhua)

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday urged Arab leaders in the region and the Palestinian leadership to show restraint and keep the Israeli- Palestinian peace talks in its original track following the clash between a Gaza-bound aid flotilla and the Israeli navy.

"We must not allow the day's events to divert us from what is really important," Barak said in a press conference held in Tel Aviv hours after the incident, adding that the parties should not "miss the opportunity that was achieved with the opening of the proximity talks."

He called upon the Palestinians to arrive at the negotiation table for direct talks with Israel.

Clashes broke out early Monday morning when Israeli navy were boarding and trying to control the aid flotilla. The IDF confirmed that more than ten peace activists in the flotilla were killed, and several Israeli soldiers were injured.

The incident drew sharp condemnation from several Middle East countries. While, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday termed the incident "Israeli crime" and announced a three-day mourning over the death of the pro-Palestinian activists.

Israeli Defense Minister Barak on Monday directed responsibility for the deadly outcome of the Israeli navy's raid aboard the Gaza-bound protest flotilla on the organizers.

"We express our regret over the casualties, but the responsibility lies entirely on the flotilla's organizers and its participants, who initiated the violence," said Barak at the joint media briefing held with IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Navy Commander Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Marom.

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