News / Europe

US Urges Turkey, Israel to Ease Tensions

The United States is mounting a diplomatic effort to prevent further deterioration in relations between U.S. allies Turkey and Israel. Turkey warns it would use force in the future to protect aid ships from Turkey trying to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

The Obama administration has been seeking for some time ease Israeli-Turkish tensions but it is stepping up the effort, amid Turkish comments suggesting the political conflict could escalate into a military clash.

Relations between Turkey and Israel, once strategic allies, have gone downhill since May of last year when Israeli commandos boarded a Turkish ship trying to deliver relief supplies to Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Nine people, eight Turks and a Turkish-born U.S. citizen, were killed in the operation.

Israel has expressed regret over the casualties but has refused Turkish demands for a formal apology.

Thursday in Ankara, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish warships would escort future aid boats leaving Turkey for Gaza, raising at least the potential of a military face-off with Israel.

An Israeli spokesman described the Turkish comments as grave and serious but said Israel will not engage in saber-rattling and hopes the episode will pass.

At a press briefing Friday, State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States is urging both sides to “cool it,” and refrain from talk or action that could add to tensions.

“We support the right of free navigation obviously. But we are concerned about any action that could be perceived as provocative, that could escalate tensions. We want to see these two strong allies of the United States get along with each other, and work together in support of regional peace and security,” Nuland said.

A United Nations report issued last week said Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, preventing arms smuggling to the radical Palestinian faction Hamas, is legal but that Israel used excessive force to stop the aid flotilla.

Turkey rejected the U.N. finding on the blockade and has downgraded relations with Israel, suspending all military cooperation.

It has also challenged Israel’s plans to exploit gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean, rejecting an agreement between Israel and Cyprus that divides waters between them and envisages gas exports to Europe through a Cypriot port.

State Department Spokeswoman Nuland said Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Philip Gordon met Turkish Ambassador to Washington Namik Tan Friday to discuss the dispute, and that U.S. envoys David Hale and Dennis Ross raised it with Israeli leaders earlier this week.

She said the United States believes that developing Mediterranean gas resources is a positive in terms of diversifying regional supplies.

However she said Cypriot gas revenue should be “fully shared” between the island’s Greek and Turkish communities as part of a long-sought political settlement creating a bi-communal federated state.

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs