Erdogan bans Israel from airspace

Turkey reportedly refuses flyover rights to Israeli military planes.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
June 28, 2010 10:14
1 minute read.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Recep Tayyip Erdogan 311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Turkey  has closed its airspace to some Israeli military flights following a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship, the Turkish prime minister and officials said Monday. An official said civilian commercial flights were not affected.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Toronto that Turkey imposed a ban on Israeli flights after the May 31 raid on a Turkish ship that was part of a six-vessel international aid flotilla, according to the state-run Anatolia news agency. The prime minister, who is in Canada to attend a summit of the Group of 20 major industrial and developing nations, did not elaborate.

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A Turkish government official said, however, that the ban was for Israeli military flights and that commercial flights were not affected. It was not a blanket ban and each flight request would be assessed case-by-case, the official added. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, in line with government rules that bar officials from speaking to journalists without prior authorization.

The Israeli prime minister's office had no comment on Erdogan's statements.

Turkey, which had a close alliance with Israel until the three-week Gaza war, which ended in early 2009, withdrew its ambassador and canceled joint military drills in response to the raid. It has said it will not return its ambassador and will reduce military and trade ties unless Israel apologizes for the raid. It also wants Israel to return the seized aid ships, agree to an international investigation and offer compensation for the victims.

"Up to now, we have done whatever is necessary within the rules of law — whether national or international — and we will continue to do so," Anatolia quoted Erdogan as saying, adding that ties with Israel could return to normal if the Jewish state meets Turkey's demands.

"We are not interested in making a show. We don't desire such a thing and we have been very patient in the face of these developments," he said, according to Anatolia.


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