Turkey: Lawmakers protest Lebanon attacks

More than three-quarters of the Turkish parliament's Israel caucus, a group formed to promote relations with the Jewish state, have resigned to protest the country's attacks on Lebanon, the head of the committee said Monday. Of the caucus' 284 member lawmakers, 217 have resigned over the past two weeks, caucus leader Vahit Kirisci told The Associated Press, leaving it with 67 members. The resignations are not likely to have a significant impact on relations, but do illustrate the deep anger that many people in overwhelmingly Muslim Turkey feel over Israel's bombardment of Lebanon and the ensuing civilian deaths. Turkey is a staunchly secular state and ties with Israel are considered an important way of increasing leverage with the United States and also a symbolic statement of Turkey's pro-Western and secular orientation. The two nations have strong military ties and important trade links.