FM urges Europe not to comply with Turkish ruling

Ayalon says Turkish charges against former IDF commanders for flotilla raid sets dangerous precedent, also for US and NATO.

Mavi Marmara Raid 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Mavi Marmara Raid 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman urged European nations on Tuesday not to cooperate with the Turkish government's "unfounded provocation," as the Foreign Ministry continued to scramble for a solution to the potential problems posed by a Turkish ruling against four former senior IDF officers.
A Turkish court decided Monday to indict a former chief of staff and three other former senior military officials in a move one Israeli source labeled “the targeted killing of Israeli-Turkish ties.”
"Israel is acting with the maximum restraint towards Turkey's defiant actions as of late," Liberman said during a meeting with German President Joachim Grauk, who is visiting Israel.
"We will not allow [Turkey] to intimidate officers and soldiers that are operating under the highest ethical standards and international law," he declared.
The indictment seeks nine counts of aggravated life imprisonment for former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, OC Israel Navy V.-Adm. Eliezer Marom, former Military Intelligence head Amos Yadlin and former IAF intelligence head Brig.-Gen. Avishai Levy.
Israel has refused to apologize for the incident, and said that the soldiers who entered the ship operated under international law when they were met with activists brandishing crude weapons.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Tuesday that the Foreign Ministry's legal department is checking the possibility that the four former Israeli military commanders indicted in Turkey for their role in the Mavi Marmara raid could be arrested if they enter countries who have extradition agreements with Turkey.
Speaking in an interview with Channel 10, Ayalon said that he was doubtful that the indictments would endanger the freedom of the former Israeli commanders in other countries. "They probably cannot visit Turkey, but I believe they can visit other countries. This seems more of a political step than a legal step," he said.
Ayalon posited that the Turkish move to indict Israeli commanders contradicts international law and international maritime law. "A step like this can set a dangerous precedent, even for the US Armed Forces and NATO forces that also board ships in the middle of the sea suspected of involvement in terror, piracy or shipping illegal cargo," the deputy foreign minister stated, adding that he envisaged heavy political pressure on Turkey to drop the issue.
Ayalon emphasized that much of the information the Foreign Ministry had was based on media reports and the Turkish government had not formally informed Jerusalem of the indictments.
"If these reports are true, we are talking about an unexplainable and bad turn of events. I hope that they will regain their composure, because this behavior serves no one's interests."
Former IDF chief Ashkenazi said Monday in response to the indictments that he hoped common sense would prevail, but added, "If the price of what I did is not being able to visit Turkey - I am willing to pay that price."
Yaakov Katz Contributed to this report.