Turkey expels Israeli envoy

2011-09-02 22:40
Ankara - Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador to Ankara on Friday and suspended all military ties with its one-time ally after a UN report slammed the "excessive" force used in a raid on a Gaza aid flotilla.

A day after leaked extracts of the report into last year's commando raid appeared in the media, Turkey's foreign minister said that the government in Ankara had decided on a series of steps as a mark of protest.

And although the report has yet to be released, Turkey's President Abdullah Gul said that Ankara would reject it, regarding it as "null and void".

The Israeli government meanwhile indicated it would accept most of the findings, but claimed vindication over its right to impose a blockade on the Palestinian territory which is run by the Islamist movement Hamas.

Ambassador pulled put

Turkey pulled its ambassador out of Tel Aviv in the immediate aftermath of the raid and, speaking at a press conference in Ankara, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said ties would now be further downgraded.

"All officials over the level of second secretary, primarily the ambassador, will turn back to their country at the latest on Wednesday," he said.

"Second, all the military agreements between Israel and Turkey are suspended."

The foreign minister also said Ankara planned to challenge Israel's right to impose a blockade on the Gaza Strip before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the United Nations' highest court.

The measures announced by Turkey came after a leaked copy of the UN-mandated report criticised Israeli troops for using "excessive" and "unreasonable" force when boarding the ferry Mavi Marmara on May 31 2010, leading to the deaths of nine people.

Official release delayed

The report's official release has been delayed several times because of the failure of Turkey and Israel to agree a final version. A UN spokesperson said however that it was expected to be handed to secretary general Ban Ki-moon in coming days.

Turkey had been Israel's closest ally in the Muslim world, holding regular joint military exercises, but ties had been going steadily downhill since Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002.

They went into crisis when eight Turkish nationals and an American of Turkish descent died on the Mavi Marmara, the lead ship of the six-vessel convoy, after Israeli special forces in speed boats and dropped from helicopters boarded it in international waters.

"Israel’s decision to board the vessels with such substantial force at a great distance from the blockade zone and with no final warning immediately prior to the boarding was excessive and unreasonable," said the inquiry, led by former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer.

It said forensic evidence showed "most of the deceased were shot multiple times, including in the back, or at close range" and this has "not been adequately accounted for" by Israel.

Acted recklessly

It added, however, that the flotilla "acted recklessly in attempting to breach the naval blockade" and the Israeli "faced significant, organised and violent resistance from a group of passengers when they boarded the Mavi Marmara, requiring them to use force for their own protection".

The inquiry called on Israel to make "an appropriate statement of regret" for the raid and pay compensation to the families of the dead.

A senior Israeli official indicated that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government would accept the findings but with some reservations.

"We will announce our acceptance of the report after its official publication, with specific reservations," the official who declined to be identified said.

Report legalises the blockade

The official stressed that the report had declared legal Israel's naval blockade of the Palestinian territory, according to the text published in the New York Times on Thursday.

"The report demonstrates that the naval blockade and its implementation conforms with international law," he said.

Turkey withdrew its ambassador to Israel the day after the raid and has consistently said that there can be no normalisation of ties without an apology and an end to the Gaza blockade, which it insists is illegal.

The report said Israel was entitled to impose the blockade and enforce it, but added: "The manner of its enforcement, however, raises serious issues of concern”.

Spokesperson for the Hamas rulers of Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri, said the UN report was "unjust and unbalanced" and would allow Israel "to shirk its responsibilities".

Read more on:    un  |  abdullah gul  |  benjamin netanyahu  |  ban ki-moon  |  israel  |  gaza strip  |  turkey  |  middle east peace  |  gaza ship raid
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
21 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

HOUSES FOR SALE IN Paarl

Houses R 1 725 000

HOUSES FOR SALE IN Paarl

Houses R 1 725 000

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Deal of the week!

Petrol generators from R1399, save up to R350. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Pampers!

Save 30% when you buy 3 or more selected pampers products. While stocks last. Shop now!

This week only - 30% off books!

Get 30% off when you buy 2 or more books. Many titles to choose from. While stocks last. Shop now!

New range of Samsung smartphones!

Samsung Galaxy A3, A5 and Alpha now available at kalahari.com. while stocks last. Shop now!

Buy 3 eBooks & only pay for 2!

The cheapest of the 3 titles will be free. Many more titles to choose from. While stocks last. Shop now!

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You are very people sensitive today and there is a tendency to put too much energy on service and outer obligations. The balance...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.