Turkey Boycotts OECD Conference in Israel

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Turkey's Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay said Turkey would not attend the OCED - Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development - conference in Jerusalem later this month, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reported on Wednesday.

"Regrettable statements have been made. We want tourism to take place, not politics," Günay told reporters.

According to the report, the decision is the country's first official boycott against Israel in response to the confrontation that took place aboard the Turkish-owned flagship, Mavi Marmara, on May 31.

The flagship led a six-vessel flotilla intent on breaching Israel's navy blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed in a confrontation with Israeli naval commandos, who boarded the ship when the captain refused to alter his course and sail to the Ashdod port to unload their cargo for land transport to Gaza.

Video footage shows the activists attacking the soldiers with knives, metal clubs, chains and stun grenades as they attempted to board the ship. The soldiers were finally given permission to use their handguns when it became evident their lives were in danger.

Despite the evidence of a pre-planned ambush, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded an official apology and remuneration for families of the activists who were killed.

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