Israeli Navy Ship 311.
(photo credit: Jorge Guerra Moreno)
Turkey has torpedoed an Israeli plan to contribute an Israel Navy missile ship
to a NATO mission in the Mediterranean Sea, in what would have been the first
time Israel actively participated in one of the Western military alliance’s
Diplomatic and defense officials told The Jerusalem Post on
Thursday that Turkey had decided to prevent Israeli participation in the
long-term operation – called Active Endeavor – following the Israel Navy raid on
a Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010 in which nine Turkish nationals were
Diplomatic officials said that ever since its success, Turkey had
been seeking to scuttle greater Israeli participation in the
NATO launched Operation Active Endeavor in the wake of 9/11 and
has succeeded in bringing together a number of countries to patrol the
Mediterranean and share information concerning terrorism and suspicious
In 2008, Israel sent a navy officer to sit at the operation’s
headquarters in Naples and in late 2009, Defense Minister Ehud Barak submitted
an official request to NATO to contribute a missile ship to the mission. In
2010, Israel and NATO signed an agreement that was supposed to pave the way for
the ship’s participation.
“Israel’s navy anyhow patrols the Mediterranean
and since we were interested in upgrading our ties with NATO, it made sense to
offer to actively participate in the operation,” a senior government official
said. “The Turks, though, torpedoed the move and refused to allow one of our
ships to join.”
Israel’s relationship with Turkey has seen a sharp
decline in recent years, most notably in the wake of the IDF’s Cast Lead
offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip in 2009. The ties further deteriorated
following the raid on the flotilla in May 2010.
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While Israel has
participated in numerous NATO activities over the past decade, it has never sent
troops or navy ships to play an operational role in the military alliance’s
While Turkey succeeded in thwarting the navy’s participation
in Active Endeavor, it has, however, failed to prevent Israel from upgrading its
ties with NATO. Defense officials said this week that the sides were on the
verge of signing a new cooperation agreement that would lead to a significant
upgrade in relations.
As a member of the Mediterranean Dialogue, which
was created in 1994 to foster ties with Middle Eastern countries, Israel is
frequently invited to participate in NATO workshops and exercises.
senior government official said, though, that the new agreement would enable
Israel to participate in top NATO forums even though it is not a full-fledged
member of the alliance.
Israel is also considering a request by NATO to
open an office at its headquarters in Brussels. Defense officials said that the
offer was still open and that it was being “positively considered” by the
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