Turkish ship move harsh: Israel

2011-09-09 22:13

Jerusalem - A senior Israeli official on Friday called Turkey's announcement that Turkish warships would escort any future convoys to the Gaza Strip as "harsh and serious" but said Israel wanted to avoid a war of words with its former ally.

The announcement by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday set the stage for a potential naval confrontation as Israel maintains a sea blockade on the Palestinian enclave.

Erdogan said the move was meant to prevent a repeat of an Israeli commando raid on a Turkish aid flotilla last year in which nine civilians were killed.

The incident and subsequent diplomatic arguing has brought relations between the two countries, once close Middle Eastern allies, almost to crisis point.

"The things Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said are harsh and serious, but I don't think it would be right to get into any verbal sabre-rattling with him," Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor told Israeli Army Radio.

"Our silence is the best response. I hope this phenomenon will pass."

Ankara downgraded diplomatic relations and said it would boost naval patrols in the eastern Mediterranean after Israel refused to apologise for the killings in the raid, which targeted a Turkish activist ship that tried to breach Israel's blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Legitimate security measure

A United Nations enquiry deemed the blockade a legitimate security measure to prevent weapons smuggling. But it also called Israel's use of force in the raid "excessive and unreasonable" and the loss of life "unacceptable". Israel expressed regrets for the deaths.

Meridor, in his comments, said: "Turkey, which claims that Israel is not above international law, needs to understand that neither is it". A UN committee has determined that the blockade is legal.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor, asked if Israel might review the blockade given Nato-member Turkey's naval challenge, said: "There is no intent to review the blockade as long as Hamas amasses missiles. This is a measure consistent with international law".

The United States has been hoping to ease tensions between its two main allies in the Middle East.

Dan Shapiro, the US ambassador to Israel, told Israel Radio: "We are encouraging both countries to find a way to work together to overcome their differences and restore at least some of the friendship that they previously had".

In addition to an apology, Turkey has demanded that Israel end the Gaza blockade. Israel says the closure is needed to keep arms from reaching Palestinian guerrillas by sea.

  • Ogunsipe - 2011-09-09 23:41

    Turkey finally realises the Israeli's regard them as inferior humans. Maybe now they'll help our Arab friends instead of supporting the murderous and terrorist Israeli regime that pleasures itself with the killing of Palestinian mothers and kids with their rockets and gunships.

      geeghey - 2011-09-13 16:08

      ogun-asswipe- question for you moron- are they also going to help your arab friends that are being butchered by their own governments in syria and iran for wanting political freedom? thought not, so enough of your bullsh*t propoganda.

  • za101 - 2011-09-10 00:34

    Turkey , Brazil and Qatar have very impressive international positions. I respect all of them. Wish South Africa government was admired by rest of the world. The South African government can solve famine situation in Somalia, which is an African country. Our government is letting fellow Africans starve to death , and they dont have sleepness nights about it. The Prime Minister of Turkey led a huge delegation of Turkish politicians, business people and celebrities to Mogadishu 2 weeks ago on aid mission. First leader of foreign country to visit Somalia in 20 years. Turkey is not even an African country. In fact Turkey is part of European block in many instances even though it is mostly in Asia. Instead of African country leading efforts in Somalia, a European country has yet to come again a lead.

      za101 - 2011-09-10 00:35

      and btw, Qatar has to lead the world to protect Libyan people from Gadaffi. Where is South Africa?

      PinkAndProud - 2011-09-10 00:39

      ZA101 - They're too busy looting.

      emile.eley - 2011-09-10 13:50

      Hey Pink why in creation must you constantly make the most disgusting racist comments? We get the picture, you don't have to spew your venom all the time.

  • Mr Nonsense - 2011-09-11 07:52

    za101 do have vission maybe you did not do history at school and this is why you can not interprete current affairs correctly,all these countries have got their own interests in Libya.

  • JohnPicarra - 2011-09-12 22:31

    Where is the turkish aid ships floating to BENGHAZI? Hypocrate!

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