Turkey expels Israeli diplomats after UN report
ISTANBUL/ANKARA – Daily News with wires
Editor’s preface: A publishable note, part of the text of the email which included this story from Turkey, sent to me by US personnel there:
“Tayip Erdogan stood up against Israel at the Davos Summit and now again. Israel was given until Wednesday of next week to pack their bags and leave the country. My hat is off to him. Attached is the English version of an article that appeared in the Hurriyet’s Turkish Daily News. I just hope that Israel doesn’t retaliate like they did recently in Norway.”
Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador and senior Israeli diplomats and suspended military agreements on Friday, the day after it emerged a U.N. report said Israel had used unreasonable force in a raid on a Gaza-bound ship that killed nine Turks, Reuters reported.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had said Thursday that Friday’s official release of the “Palmer Report” would constitute Israel’s last chance to apologize for its raid on the Turkish-sponsored flotilla and warned of consequences, including sanctions, should Israel continue to refuse to apologize.
Stung by Israel’s refusal to meet demands for a formal apology, pay compensation for families of the dead, and end the blockade of Palestinians living in the Gaza enclave, Turkey announced it was downgrading ties with Israel further.
“Turkey-Israel diplomatic relations have been reduced to a second secretary level.
All personnel above the second secretary level will be sent home by Wednesday at the latest,” Foreign Minister Davutoğlu told at a news conference in Ankara.
Davutoğlu announced five measures that the Turkish government would take against Israel:
1. Downgrade diplomatic ties between the two countries to level of second secretary, effectively expelling diplomats above the said level.
2. All military agreements will be put on hold.
3. Turkey will take measures for freedom of maritime movement in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
4. Turkey will no longer recognize the Gaza blockade and will take the issue to the International Court of Justice.
5. Turkey will support all flotilla victims, Turkish and foreign, in court.
Israel’s ambassador Gabby Levy was currently in Israel and canceled plans to return to Turkey on Thursday. Immediately after the attack on the aid convoy last year, Turkey withdrew its ambassador to Israel, suspended joint military exercises, and barred Israeli military aircraft from Turkish airspace. On Friday, Turkey went a step further by putting military pacts with its erstwhile ally on ice.