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Turkey Suspends Trade, Defense Ties with Israel

Turkey Suspends Trade, Defense Ties with Israel
Turkey Suspends Trade, Defense Ties with Israel

Turkey says it is "totally suspending" all trade and military ties with Israel as relations between the two countries continue to worsen.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the freeze Tuesday, a day after Turkey ordered all senior Israeli diplomats to leave the country by Wednesday.

Erdogan also said he may visit the Gaza Strip, but would finalize plans after speaking to Egyptian officials. He is planning to visit Egypt later this month.

Last week Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador and downgraded diplomatic relations. Israel refuses to apologize for the deaths of eight Turkish citizens and a Turkish-American during last year's Israeli raid on a ship carrying aid to Palestinians in Gaza.

Israeli airline passengers complain they were detained and questioned by Turkish authorities at the airport in Istanbul Monday while Turkish citizens complain of similar treatment in Tel Aviv. Some tourists from both countries say they were strip searched and that their passports were temporarily taken away.

Also Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met in Ankara with Palestinian official Nabil Shaath. Davutoglu said Turkey would push for recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations General Assembly. Israel and the United States oppose such a move.

A United Nations report said Israel used excessive and unreasonable force when commandos boarded the aid ship last year. But the report said the raid was legal because of Israeli concerns that the ship was carrying arms to Palestinian militants. The report said Turkey and the flotilla organizers were also responsible in the deaths of the nine people.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.