Ankara may downgrade J'lem ties

J’lem yet to hear formal word; Israel: It's Turks who should apologize.

By
June 17, 2010 20:03
2 minute read.
'Haphazard' cargo is inspected at the Ashdod port.

flotilla aid 311. (photo credit: Ron Friedman)

 
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Jerusalem is aware Ankara is considering a number of steps to express its anger over the Gaza flotilla episode, including significantly downgrading diplomatic ties, but has not been informed of any concrete moves, Israeli diplomatic officials said Thursday.

The comments came amid reports that Turkey was considering not returning its ambassador to Israel and reviewing military, economic, cultural and academic cooperation if Israel did not apologize for the flotilla raid, return the seized ship, agree to an international investigation and offer compensation both to the families of the nine people killed and to the injured.

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Turkey recalled its ambassador soon after the incident. Israel’s ambassador to Turkey, however, is still in Ankara and diplomatic channels of communication between the two countries are still open.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said unequivocally on Sunday that Israel had no intention of apologizing, and one diplomatic source said Thursday there were voices inside the government saying that not only should Israel not apologize, but it should demand a Turkish apology for facilitating the dispatch of a ship with terrorist supporters who beat Israeli soldiers trying to protect its territorial sovereignty.

“The Turkish don’t have clean hands in this fiasco and are the ones who should apologize,” the source said.


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Regarding the Turkish demand for an international inquiry into the event, Ayalon on Thursday told the Foreign Affairs Committee of the French National Assembly in Paris that “an international committee is an infringement of our sovereignty and an insult to our legal system.”



“No other countries are charged with international investigations,” he said.

Diplomatic sources also said that there are voices in Ankara, concerned about what the flotilla incident and the Turkish vote against the Iranian sanctions last week in the UN are doing to ties with the US, who are advising against “pushing the issue too far.” According to the officials, the harsh criticism that has been articulated by some members of Congress is not entirely lost on Ankara. On Wednesday a number of US Congressmen warned that Ankara was risking its historically warm ties with Congress by moving toward Iran and away from Israel.

And also on Wednesday, three Jewish organizations – the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the ADL and Bna’i Brith International – which in the past have helped Turkey’s lobbying efforts in Washington, declined a meeting with a visiting Turkish delegation. Another group – the American Jewish Committee – agreed to the meeting.

In addition, Israeli officials said that certain European countries have also expressed to the Turks their unease with the “escalating rhetoric” coming out of Ankara.

Meanwhile, Israeli officials said they had no information backing up stories in the Turkish media that Ankara has canceled billions of dollars in military contracts with Israel as a result of the episode. Rather, the officials said, even before the flotilla episode – and in light of the continuing tension with Turkey which preceded that event – Israel was reevaluating what it would supply the Turks, adding that some of the contracts the Turkish media reported were canceled, in fact were never agreed upon.

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