Turkey to minimize ties to Israel

Deputy PM: We'll reconsider cooperation in response to IDF raid.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS, JPOST.COM STAFF
June 4, 2010 13:43
2 minute read.
Pro-Palestinian Turkish protesters shout slogans "

pro-Palestinian Turkish 311 protest. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 
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ANKARA — Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said on Friday economic and military cooperation with Israel would be reduced to a minimum in the coming period, as a reaction to the Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla, which resulted in eight Turkish fatalities.

In the latest in a series of escalating harangues against Israel and steps taken to express Turkish anger over the incident at sea,
the deputy prime minister said ties to Israel would not be cut entirely, as "Turkey cannot ignore a country it recognizes," he said, but all ties, including defense contracts, would be reconsidered.

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On Thursday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sharply criticized Israel for its reaction to the Mavi Marmara raid, saying that "Israel stands to lose its closest ally in the Middle East if it does not change its mentality."

Erdogan argued that "Turkey tried to preserve their relationship, but the Israeli government did not understand this, and performed a historical mistake."

"This mistake is not only against Turkey, it is against civilians from 32 different countries," he said.

"Violent policies will not bring about a positive outcome, Erdogan exclaimed. "We will not avert our eyes from violence like this."

US working with Turkey, Israel on raid aftermath

On Tuesday US President Barack Obama spoke with Erdogan, stressing his “deep condolences” for the loss of Turkish life during the incident and backing calls for a credible investigation, according to a White House statement.

But he did not adopt the Turkish position condemning Israel for the incident or urge an independent investigation, which Jerusalem opposes, in a sign of the careful calibration of the administration’s response.

Obama’s call to Erdogan followed three phone conversations with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu the day before, in which he expressed his understanding for Netanyahu’s decision to cancel his planned visit with Obama Tuesday and noted the importance of learning all the facts of what happened before making judgments.

“Turkey and Israel are both good friends of the United States, and we are working with both to deal with the aftermath of this tragic incident,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters Tuesday.

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