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".

  • zaatheist - 2011-09-03 04:33

    Yeh! You demand an inquiry. Get it. Then, when you don't like the outcome and findings you throw your toys out of the cot. Sounds familiar. What about you Turks doing something useful; like helping the people of Syria gain their freedom.

      pierreedge - 2011-09-05 15:55

      so blinded by your irrational support for those zionist you cant even read. IT SAYS: "The inquiry called on Israel to make "an appropriate statement of regret" for the raid and pay compensation to the families of the dead." the outcome calls on isreal to apologise and pay money, get it? your buddies isreal dont like the outcome and throwing their toys of the cot like brats. Boycot isreali products

  • slg - 2011-09-03 06:38

    Whatever the view of Turkey's actions here are, it is clear that by taking its stand against Israel it is shown itself not to be a "Western puppet".

      barryjoelm - 2011-09-03 11:17

      How original

  • mecan - 2011-09-03 08:14

    Pathetic and whining Turkish regime! It is time Ankara realized that the Ottoman empire is dead and that Israel never has and never will apologize for defending herself against Jihadi aggression. Israel is a democracy seeking peace but also has one of the strongest military defense forces in the world ready to defend her ctiizens. One wonders how thick the skin is on the Turkish voters. Their economy is going down, their attempts to join EU are stalled, their military is being purged with trumped up charges, and the Islamist government is showing that it is great at delivering what all the other Islamist governments in the world give: rhetoric. However, hot words does not make jobs, nor pay salaries, nor put money in the education budgets. Turkey's stupidity with the boats has already cost them hundreds of millions in lost Israeli & American business. Leaders badmouthing Israel looks great in the local press. My bet is that the rhetoric against Israel gets even louder the closer we get to the next Turkish elections, in order to divert voters' attention away from all the other failings.

  • Monacoroyals - 2011-09-03 08:20

    I am proud that Israel finally stood up and refused to allow herself to be blackmailed into an apology. Where is the Turkish apology for allowing a ship to leave its' waters knowing that it was heading towards breaking the law. Where is Turkey's apology to the families of those killed, after all Turkey had in its' power to stop them.

  • MosesMabhida - 2011-09-03 08:43

    Terrorist supporting Turkey is no longer an asset to NATO. It uses NATO weapons to murder innocent Kurdish civilians in Iraq - a war crime committed with NATO weapons. Kick Turkey out of NATO now

      MosesMabhida - 2011-09-03 08:58

      When will Turkey apologize for the massacre of Armenians and Cypriots? Mr. Erdogan does not like to be reminded of the massacre of Armenians. He also does not like to be asked about his government's invasion of Cyprus and the expulsion of Greek Cypriots. Mr. Erdogan is one big hypocrite. Israel must not let Turkey make the running and should sever all diplomatic ties now. Israel should then support the moves to recognise the Armenian genocide and the illegal occupation of northern Cyprus. Take the gloves off! Better an open enemy than a treacherous 'ally'.

      Organist-1 - 2011-09-03 09:57

      we are just seeing prophecy being fulfilled. Gog and Magog, with Turkey falling into the sphere of Iran and Russia. Read all about it. Israel is God's chosen Nation and NOTHING will or can change that. NATO? what is Nato? Nothing more than a USA puppet. Bush and Obama start an unholy war and when things get tough, they pass the buck and another group of brainwashed countries (NATO) have to "finish" ( if they can) the job and carry the bucket. Sickening --- and to think it has nothing to do with "liberation" but ALL to do with the GREED for OIL. ( Haliburton & Co)

      OnlyaGinger - 2011-09-03 11:08

      Organist- your entire argument will fall flat once you realise that the Bible that says Jews are gods chosen folk was written by jewss. Isnt that kind of suspicious? Thats like me saying: God likes Afrikaner women the best, because I am one. Seriously weak dude. There is a lot of evidence to support that the bible's books were rewritten many times, every time tweaked a little more to promote the men's ideologies, and not some supposed god ideologies. You must be really juvenile if you actually think God created thousands of tribes on earth, only to favour one. God is not a man, only man dislikes based on differences of race gender or appearance, only man knows racism and genocide, no creator of the entire universe would be so petty. Man created god in his image, not other way around. I do however agree that Haliburton is one evil corporation

      Messenger - 2011-09-03 17:38

      OnlyaGinger, the Jews being God's chosen nation has got nothing to do with race. Firstly, God made an everlasting covenant (blood covenant) with the Jews. That means it can never be broken. Secondly, something that so many people fail to understand, is that God gave His Word (the Bible) and Jesus Christ the Messiah (our Saviour) to the WHOLE WORLD through the Jews. Thus, God blessed all other nations THROUGH the Jews. I love Arabs just as much as Jews and I get so happy when Muslims (Arabs, Turks, Iranians, etc.) find the truth and embrace Jesus Christ as the Son of God. God is indeed an impartial God. Lastly, what do you mean by "There is a lot of evidence to support that the bible's books were rewritten many times"? Have you ever heard of the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls and other ancient documents containing translations of the Bible?

      AceOfSpades - 2011-09-03 18:44

      "everlasting blood covenant" "God gave Jesus to the WHOLE WORLD through the Jews." Through the Jews?! Good grief, what does that even mean? This is why religion is so dangerous. It short circuits the neurological circuitry in your brain. To a non religious person those statements above sound like it comes from someone tripping on acid. You can have your religion with pleasure, but pleeeease keep it out of our schools.

      Messenger - 2011-09-03 19:09

      AceOfSpades, it's easy really. Jesus was born a Jew. This is one of the least contested truths of the Bible. "It short circuits the neurological circuitry in your brain." - Sounds like something that happened to you, making you incapable of understanding what Christianity is about. Jesus is love and Jesus loves you too.

      AceOfSpades - 2011-09-03 19:39

      Jesus most certainly is NOT love. According to Biblical scripture he condemns humans to ETERNAL torture for FINITE transgressions. That is not love. This is what I mean when I say religious indoctrination short circuits neurological pathways in the brain. Put another way, it bypasses the region in your brain responsible for cognitive reasoning. You read the Bible and come out thinking god represents all that is good and he loves and protects you from evil. I read it and come out thinking he's an evil monster suffering from some sort of psychosis with the moral values of a serial killer. Oh, and he doesn't come across as being very bright either.

      AceOfSpades - 2011-09-03 19:44

      @ Messenger Just one more point. If Jesus loves me, it means he's still alive. If he's still alive, it means he was never sacrificed. So stop feeling so guilty about a so called "sacrifice for your sins".

  • RainbowZombi - 2011-09-03 08:50

    Please, I beg of the Israelies never to back down never, South Africans backed down which was a srtong ally of Israel and look at our country now. Tearing its self apart at the seams!!

      OnlyaGinger - 2011-09-03 10:39

      Oh so SA should have remained an apartheid state like Israel is today? Do I actually understand you correctly? I'm gonna guess PolSci wasnt your strongest subject at Uni... SA's internal politics and its past support of Israel have NOTHING to do with one another

      j4truth - 2011-09-03 12:46

      Ouch, Turkey will be getting an earthquake soon! Israel have to enforce DEFENSIVE codes to safeguard their survival. So would any sane country surrounded by bomb-happy madmen and Hitlerites. The word 'apartheid' does not apply - get a brain! VIVA ISRAEL!

      pierreedge - 2011-09-05 16:00

      this comment from zombi shows clearly that apartheid and the isrealu regime are the same, unjust, unfair, immoral. Boycott them and their products till palestinians are not treated like the black folks were treated here before 94

      Monacoroyals - 2011-09-05 16:14

      pierreedge, difference is that blacks and whites chose peace... Israel over the last 60 odd years has based every election on the promise of peace with Palestinians... but the Palestinians do not want peace – they want a religious war. Read Hamas's charter - maybe then you will understand why the only people boycotting Israel are tree huggers (fashionably correct) and racists (like you)

  • abce189 - 2011-09-03 13:07

    Well done turkey banishing the zionist regime out of its wrong to provide aid to suffering ople but correct to use phosphurus bombs on women and children? The world is finally catchin up to israel . There time will come,

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