Turkey expels Israeli diplomats, suspends military ties after UN report

Today’s Zaman reports:

In the face of a leaked United Nations panel report on the Mavi Marmara incident, which includes accusations both against Israel and Turkey, Turkey on Friday announced that it is further reducing diplomatic relations and cutting military ties with Israel over the country’s refusal to apologize for last year’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla.

The decision effectively expels Israeli diplomats in Turkey.

“The time has come for Israel to pay for its stance that sees it above international laws and disregards human conscience,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said at a press conference in Ankara. “The first and foremost result is that Israel is going to be devoid of Turkey’s friendship.”

Davutoğlu said the UN report “displayed the violence committed by the Israeli soldiers,” but also criticized it for describing Israel’s naval blockade as a legitimate security measure and in line with international law.

He stated that Turkey is downgrading its diplomatic representation in Israel from charge d’affaires to the level of second secretary, suspending all military agreements with Israel, and that Turkey will, as the country with the longest coastal line in the eastern Mediterranean, take necessary measures pertaining to freedom of navigation, lend full support to the victims of the flotilla incident in their legal efforts to seek their rights and will seek a review of the Israeli blockade of Gaza by the International Court of Justice (ICC) as Turkey does not recognize the blockade.

Haaretz reports:

Speaking to reporters in Istanbul later Friday, [Turkish President Abduallah] Gul said that Israel apparently “did not understand how determined Turkey was to show it has not forgotten the events of the past,” adding that Turkey “would always defend our citizens’ rights,” saying that the “steps announced today were just the first phase.”

“In accordance with Israel’s stance, it is possible that more steps may come in the future,” the Turkish president added, saying of the UN’s Gaza flotilla report that “as far as we’re concerned that reports doesn’t exist.”

Gul also said that Turkey had considered to sanction Israel for its refusal to apologize sooner, but instead waited since it wanted to “give some of our good-willed allies the opportunity to end the crisis.”

The Jerusalem Post reports on how at least one member of Israel’s Knesset has become so incensed by Turkey’s response to the killing of its own citizens, that he imagines the Obama administration might be willing to include Turkey in the “axis of evil”! Dream on Danny!

Following a Turkish ultimatum warning Israel to apologize for the raid of the Mavi Marmara or face snactions, Likud MK Danny Danon on Thursday sent a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling on Washington to declare Turkey a “terror-supporting state.”

“Turkey has gotten closer to Iran and constitutes a direct continuation of the axis of evil. The government in Washington must answer the Turkish problem before it is too late,” Danon wrote.

Danon called for economic and diplomatic sanctions against Turkey until Ankara changes its ways and abandons the way of terror.

“The Turks have crossed the line. They supported the flotilla, they support terror and they dare to ask Israel to apologize to them,” Danon stated in response to the ultimatum.

Danon’s views are not shared by all members of the Knesset. Haaretz reports:

In response to the Turkish announcement, two of the Knesset’s leading Israeli Arab voices later Friday voiced support of the decision to expel the Israeli envoy to Ankara, with United Arab List-Ta’al chairman Ahmed Tibi saying that “these days, whoever kills pays,” adding that “eventually, Israeli arrogance will lead to an apology by the most extreme and arrogant of Israel’s governments.”

“In Turkey, the blood of those killed can be heard screaming from the soil and from the sea,” Tibi added.

Balad MK, and flotilla participant, MK Hanin Zuabi called the Turkish decision a “strong and dramatic move, but it is the “right response to a continued disregard of human life, of the pride of the nations of the regions, and of the sovereignty of neighboring states.”

“Turkey will not be the last country to put an end to Israeli arrogance and aggressiveness,” Zuabi added. The Israeli Arab MK also tied the recent wave of Israeli social protest with the Turkish move, saying that “just as Israelis are beginning to seriously consider a new social order, they must also consider a new diplomatic order in which Israel will pay a heavy price for its policy of oppression, occupation, and belligerence.”

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