Turkey gives Israeli diplomats 2 days to leave country

Ankara threatens to bring Gaza blockade before International Criminal Court, file suit against Israeli soldiers, officials.

September 5, 2011 18:17
1 minute read.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu

Davutoglu 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/Osman Orsal)


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Israeli diplomats in Turkey on Monday were briefed by Turkish officials on a list of sanctions against Israel, and then asked to leave the country by Wednesday.

Besides reducing Israeli diplomatic representation to second secretary level, the lowest rank in the Foreign Ministry, Today's Zaman reported on Monday that Turkey will bring the legality of Israel's naval blockade on Gaza before the International Criminal Court. Turkey also stated its intent to file suit against the Israeli soldiers and officials involved in the May 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, suspend military agreements between the two countries, support the families of victims, and "take measures to ensure freedom of navigation in the eastern Mediterranean."

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Palmer: Gaza blockade lawful, IDF used ‘excessive’ force
PM: We still won't apologize to Turkey over 'Marmara' raid

Second secretary is the lowest rank in the Foreign Ministry. While all Israeli diplomats above that rank were expected to leave Turkey by Wednesday, diplomats at second secretary level, including the spokesman of the Israeli Embassy in Turkey, were expected to remain in their posts, the Foreign Ministry said.

On Saturday, Israeli officials said Turkey’s threat to take Israel to the International Court of Justice in The Hague following Friday’s release of the Palmer Commission report is a “pistol firing blanks,” pointing out that the court only adjudicates issues brought to it by two disputing states, or referred to it for an advisory decision from the UN.

Israel won’t agree to go to the court, the official said, and the UN will be hard-pressed to ask for an advisory opinion after a UN body, the Palmer Commission, found that the blockade of the Gaza Strip was legal, as was Israel’s interception of vessels trying to break it.

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