[Marxism] Turkey expels Israeli ambassador over murderous flotilla raid

Fred Feldman ffeldman at verizon.net
Fri Sep 2 07:40:36 MDT 2011

Turkey Expels Israeli Ambassador Over Flotilla Raid

ANKARA, Turkey - Turkey said on Friday that it was downgrading its
diplomatic and military ties with Israel and expelling its ambassador in a
display of anger at Israel's refusal to apologize for a commando raid last
year on a Turkish protest flotilla bound for Gaza in which nine people died.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey would reduce its diplomatic
representation in Israel to the level of second secretary - one of the
lowest diplomatic ranks - and had ordered Israel's ambassador, Gabby Levy,
to leave Turkey by Wednesday. Reuters said Mr. Levy was currently in Israel
and had canceled plans to return to Turkey. 

"All military agreements have been suspended," Mr. Davutoglu said but added
that relations could return to normal if Israel apologized. 

"Our aim here is not to hurt our friendship but to return this friendship to
its right track," Mr. Davutoglu said. 

Turkey once ranked as Israel's closest ally in the Muslim world. The latest
move stopped just short of a complete breach in diplomatic relations but
nonetheless seemed likely to deepen the already profound alienation between
the two countries. 

There was no immediate comment from Jerusalem. Israeli officials said that
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was holding consultations but they refused
to respond publicly to the announcement from Turkey. 

The deterioration in relations with Turkey compounded Israel's regional woes
from the so-called Arab Spring after the loss of a key ally in Egypt, the
deposed former president Hosni Mubarak, and a bloody and unpredictable
crackdown on dissent in Syria. 

Some Israeli officials, speaking privately because of the delicate
diplomatic situation, said that while Turkey's diplomatic move represented a
further sharp downturn in relations with Israel, military ties had already
been undergoing a serious erosion since 2009. "My feeling is that there is
not a lot to suspend in that sense," one official said. 

The move came as a long-awaited United Nations review of the 2010 raid on a
Turkish-based flotilla found that Israel's naval blockade of Gaza is both
legal and appropriate. But it said that the way Israeli forces boarded the
vessels trying to break that blockade 15 months ago was excessive and

The report, expected to be released Friday, also found that when Israeli
commandos boarded the main ship, they faced "organized and violent
resistance from a group of passengers" and were therefore required to use
force for their own protection. But the report called the force "excessive
and unreasonable," saying that the loss of life was unacceptable and that
the Israeli military's later treatment of passengers was abusive. Eight
Turks and an American of Turkish descent died in the Israeli raid. 

A copy of the 105-page report was obtained early by The New York Times. 

Mr. Davutoglu said Turkey did not accept the findings of the report and did
not recognize the legality of the Gaza blockade. He also said Turkey would
take all necessary precautions to protect its shipping in the eastern
Mediterranean, though he did not elaborate. 

Turkey plans to start procedures at the United Nations and the International
Court of Justice to analyze the legitimacy of the blockade. 

In the past, the two countries have sought to negotiate some kind of apology
for the raid from Israel and compensation for the victims. But those
discussions ended in failure with Israel saying it is willing to express
regret and pay compensation but not offer the full apology Turkey is

For his part, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said an apology
and compensation would not be sufficient for Turkey to return its ambassador
to Tel Aviv, demanding that Israel end the blockade of Gaza. 

Sebnem Arsu reported from Ankara, and Alan Cowell from Paris. Isabel
Kershner contributed reporting from Jerusalem. 

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