Raid at sea adds to Israel's diplomatic troubles

Early reaction to the raid, in which at least 10 activists were killed, included French condemnation, a call for an inquiry by the European Union and expressions of shock from the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. Turkey, one of Israel's few Muslim allies, recalled its ambassador.

The incident poses a fresh challenge to Israeli diplomats who have scrambled over the past year to contain the fallout from other incidents, from evidence that Israel forged the passports of friendly states to accusations that it committed war crimes during a war in the Gaza Strip.

Here are some of the other diplomatic storms faced by Israel over the last year.

Dubai Assassination

Britain and Australia have expelled Israeli diplomats after concluding that Israel forged British and Australian passports used by the assassins of a Hamas leader.

Israel has neither confirmed or denied a role in the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a Hamas military commander who was assassinated in a Dubai hotel room in January.

Britain said such misuse of British passports was "intolerable." Australia said it was not the behavior of "a nation with whom we have had such a close, friendly and supportive relationship."

Settlement row with united states Israeli plans for new Jewish settlement on occupied land in East Jerusalem triggered unusually harsh criticism from the United States in March when it damaged Washington's efforts to revive the Middle East peace process.

The announcement, made during a visit to Israel by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, temporarily set back U.S. efforts to bring about indirect peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the project was an insult. Israeli Prime Minister Benajamin Netanyahu said he was blindsided by planning bureaucrats and apologized to Biden.

The Goldstone Report

Israel has sought to rebuff the conclusions of a U.N. inquiry that found it guilty of committing war crimes during a 2008-2009 offensive in the Gaza Strip.

South African jurist Richard Goldstone's report found both Israel and the Hamas movement that controls Gaza guilty of war crimes, but focused more on Israel. Israel refused to cooperate with Goldstone and described his report as distorted and biased.

More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the three-week conflict, which Israel launched with the declared aim of halting rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. Thirteen Israelis were killed.

Nuclear Programme

Israel, widely assumed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, has faced renewed calls to sign a global treaty barring the spread of atomic weapons.

Signatories of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) last week called for a conference in 2012 to discuss banning weapons of mass destruction throughout the Middle East.

Last week's declaration was adopted by all 189 parties to the NPT, including the United States. It urged Israel to sign the NPT and put its nuclear facilities under U.N. safeguards.

[Source: Reuters, Edt, Jerusalem, 31may10]

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