Turkish FM: We’ll Cut Israel Ties Unless It Apologizes for Raid
Turkey’s foreign minister has warned that diplomatic ties with Israel will be cut in the wake of the recent flotilla crisis unless certain conditions are met, the Turkish press reported Monday.
“The Israelis have three options: They will either apologize or acknowledge an international-impartial inquiry and its conclusion. Otherwise, our diplomatic ties will be cut off,” Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters on Saturday during a visit to Kyrgyzstan.
The once-close Turkish-Israeli relationship has taken a steep nose dive following a tragically botched May 31 Israeli commando raid on a Gaza aid flotilla led by a Turkish non-governmental organization. Nine Turks were killed in the attack.
Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel after the raid. It has also closed its airspace to Israeli military aircraft in response to the incident.
Turkey has previously stated its demands that before relations are normalized Israel must apologize, pay compensation to the victims and allow for an international inquiry into the event.
Israel has so far refused to meet those demands. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week said his country would not apologize or pay compensation to the flotilla victims.
Israel has meanwhile set up its own inquiry, headed by a former Supreme Court justice. “We showed them an exit road. If they apologize as a result of their own investigation’s conclusion, that would be fine for us. But of course we first have to see it,” Davutoglu said.
“They are aware of our demands. If they do not want to apologize, then they should accept an international investigation,” he added.
Davutoglu also suggested that Turkey could impose further sanctions against Israel should it fail to meet Turkey’s conditions. “If steps are not taken, the process of isolation will continue,” he said.
Davutoglu also said that Turkey had closed its airspace to all Israeli military flights in reaction to the raid. “This decision was not taken for only one or two airplanes,” the minister said, adding that the closure could be extended to civilian flights as well.
Last week Turkey closed its airspace to two military airplanes, but authorities said that it was not a generalized ban.
On Friday, Israeli Trade and Labor Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer refuted a report by Turkish daily Hurriyet, which claimed that he had indicated to Davutoglu during their clandestine meeting in Brussels last week that Israel was rethinking its refusal to compensate and apologize over the flotilla incident.
“We have no plans to do that, and the minister did not promise anything to that regard during his meeting with the Turkish foreign minister two days ago,” Ben-Eliezer’s bureau said in response to the report.