Turkey Threatens Not to Return Ambassador
Turkey has threatened not to return its ambassador to Israel. The ambassador was called back following a clash between violent Turkish passengers on a Gaza-bound ship and IDF soldiers.
Soldiers clashed with members of the pro-terrorist IHH organization in late May as the IHH and other foreign activists attempted to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza. After IHH members wounded and briefly kidnapped three soldiers, a fourth soldier opened fire, killing nine people and ending the standoff.
Turkey wants Israel to apologize for boarding the ships and for the subsequent clash, to offer to compensate the injured and families of those killed, and to allow an international investigation of the incident.
That is not going to happen, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Thursday. Speaking to the Voice of Israel radio station, Ayalon said that Turkey's demands prove that the country's leaders are not approaching the situation with good will.
The deterioration in ties between Turkey and Israel was not Israel's doing, he continued. The only way to restore ties is through diplomatic channels, he said.
Ties between Turkey and Israel have been strained since the IDF Cast Lead counter-terror operation in Gaza in early 2009. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan harshly condemned Israel over the operation. Erdogan has since taken several steps away from Israel – including canceling joint military exercises and reducing trade ties – while drawing closer to the Arab world and to Iran.
Ayalon said Israel is currently working to convince Lebanon not to follow in Turkey's footsteps and send its own flotilla to Gaza. At least one organizers of the planned Lebanese flotilla has ties to Hizbullah.