News / Europe

Turkey Expels Israel's Ambassador, Cuts Military Ties Over UN Report

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu speaks to the media in Ankara, Turkey, September 2, 2011.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu speaks to the media in Ankara, Turkey, September 2, 2011.
Dorian Jones

Turkey has expelled Israel's ambassador to Ankara. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced Ankara's expulsion of the Israeli ambassador, along with a suspension of all military agreements with Israel, in a short statement to the media.

He said Turkey is reducing its relations with Israel to the level of second secretary, and expects the ambassador to leave by Wednesday.

The expulsion comes after details were leaked of a U.N. report into the killing last year by Israeli forces of nine Turks who were taking part in a flotilla of ships seeking to break Israel's economic blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Ankara gave Friday, the day the U.N. report is to be officially released, as the deadline for an apology from Jerusalem and for the payment of compensation to the families of those killed.  Davutoglu blamed divisions in the Israeli government for its failure to meet Turkey's demands.

Turkey met four times with the Israelis, he said, and on two occasions reached an agreement to which the Israeli prime minister agreed, but not the Israeli Cabinet.

The Turkish foreign minister said his government will now provide full support to the families of those killed to pursue prosecution of any Israeli military or government members responsible for the deaths.

The U.N. report said excessive force was used by Israel. It also said some of those killed were shot in the back and at close quarters. But the report also defended Israel's right to enforce its economic embargo on Gaza. That finding is strongly condemned by the Turkish government. President Abdullah Gul strongly condemned the report.

Such a report does not exist for Turkey,he said.  He went on to issue a warning, saying Turkey, as the most powerful country in the region, will not only protect its own rights but also those of all the people in need. He said the international community should be aware of this.

Mr. Gul's warning came after Foreign Minister Davutoglu said Turkey would take measures to ensure free maritime movement in the eastern Mediterranean.  Davutoglu refused to explain how exactly Turkey will do this.

Diplomatic columnist Semih Idiz says such ambiguity will cause concern.

"It does suggest that the Turkish navy will be patrolling the area and obviously against Israeli ships," says Idiz. "Some groups may decide to force the blockade, relying on Turkish intervention."

The Turkish Islamic charity, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, could be key to determining what direction Turkish-Israeli relations take.

Last year's killings took place during the seizure by Israeli forces of the group's ship, the Mavi Marmara.  Huseyin Oruc, deputy head of the foundation, welcomed Ankara's tough stance.  He said the group has no current plans to send ships to Gaza, but did not rule it out in the future.

"What Israel says in [the] eastern Mediterranean, 'I can stop anyone. I can kill whoever out of my beliefs. I can do whatever I like.' But now another country says that is not acceptable. 'If you do something, I will prevent them.' It's very, very important.  If we feel that the Gazan people are in need, we can go of course. Still we have a boat," says Oruc.

The foundation withdrew the Mavi Marmara at the last minute from this year's attempt to break Israel's Gaza blockade.

That withdrawal is widely believed to have come about because of pressure from the Turkish government. There had been hopes and rumors that Jerusalem would meet Turkey's demands, under reported intense pressure from the United States. Now there seems little hope of that, according to diplomatic columnist Idiz.

"Well, the implications are that they are more or less finished.  I mean, the sides have just drawn their red lines and they [are] not prepared to concede in any way. This could have been resolved a long time ago, but clearly there is no will on either [side] to do so."

Observers say with the crisis in Syria continuing to deepen, another crisis could now be looming between two of Syria's neighbors, Israel and Turkey, the region's most powerful countries.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid