'Israel kidnapped people off flotilla'

Turkish FM says future of relations depends on Israel's actions.

June 2, 2010 15:08
2 minute read.
Protesters burn a representation of former prime m

Turkey protest fire 311. (photo credit: AP)

Israel kidnapped the passengers of the Gaza-bound flotilla in international waters, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu claimed according to an Associated Press report on Wednesday.

Davutoglu said 210 Turks were scheduled to be flown home from Israel on Turkish planes later Wednesday. He said Israel also assured Turkey it would not put any Turkish protesters on trial.

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From friend to (almost certainly) foe

"We have clearly stated that we would review our ties with Israel if all Turks not released by the end of the day," Davutoglu said. "All citizens of foreign countries will be set free."

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The future of Turkey-Israel relations depends on Israel's actions, Reuters reported Davutoglu saying, if Israel ends the embargo on Gaza, Turkey would re-normalize its ties with Israel, he said.

Earlier Wednesday it was officially confirmed Israel's ambassador to Turkey, Gabby Levy, would not be recalled.

Israel Radio reported that senior Israeli diplomats said they had no indications of Turkey's intending to return its ambassador, Ahmet Oguz Celikkol, despite press reports to that effect in the last 24 hours.

Earlier Wednesday, Israeli media outlets reported that the Foreign Ministry had ordered the families of its diplomats in Turkey to leave the country because of the uproar over Monday's naval raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman would neither confirm nor deny the reports, and The Jerusalem Post could not immediately verify the information.

The reports came as former prime minister Ehud Olmert called for a "rehabilitation" of ties with Ankara, despite fiery opposition from the once close Middle East ally.

As early as Monday, just hours after the raid, Israel’s top officials began working to quell worldwide censure against the operation, in which nine activists were killed.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu cut short his visit to North America and canceled his much-anticipated meeting with US President Barack Obama to head back to Israel, while the UN Security Council convened an emergency meeting in New York.

Israeli ambassadors around the world were called by their host governments to explain the incident. The Foreign Ministry, in turn, held a briefing with all ambassadors posted in Israel.

“It’s a big diplomatic crisis,” Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told The Jerusalem Post. “We are working in emergency mode.”

On Monday, Turkey recalled its ambassador and canceled three joint military exercises with Israel.

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report

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