Turkey freezes defense deals with Israel in wake of Gaza flotilla raid
According to Turkish paper, Turkey may not resend its ambassador to Israel and is considering downgrading ties to ‘charge d’affairs’ level.
By Ora Koren and Haaretz Service
Turkey has frozen billions of dollars worth of defense deals with Israel in the wake of the Israel Navy’s deadly raid on a humanitarian bound flotilla to the Gaza Strip, according to Turkish media.
Some of the 16 scrapped projects include a $5 billion deal in which Ankara was to receive 1,000 Merkava Mark III tanks from Israel, a $50 million plan to upgrade Turkish M-60 tanks, and a $800 million agreement to buy two Israeli patrol aircrafts and an Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft.
|Thousands attended the funeral on Thursday June 3, 2010 in Istanbul for the activists killed in the IDF raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.|
|Photo by: AFP|
Turkey has also abandoned a $632.5 million deal for 54 F-4 Phantom, and a $75 million program for 48 F-5 fighter bombers.
Bilateral corporate deals in the private sector would continue as usual unless so decided by the companies, according to Today’s Zaman.
The decision regarding the defense sector was made due to Israel’s refusal to apologize or offer concessions for the deaths of the nine Turkish citizens it killed aboard the Mavi Marmara on May 31, said Zaman.
Turkey said it does not know if or when it would decide to send its ambassador back to Israel, according to the newspaper, though such a move would depend on Israel’s agreement to send a representative to a United Nations investigatory commission into the raid.
Turkey will refuse to recognize Israel’s internal inquiry into the incident at all levels, according to Zaman.
“An apology is Israel’s exit if it really wants to normalize relations with Turkey, and we are firm in our demand for an apology,” Zaman quoted a diplomat as saying.
“Destroying such ties is easier than establishing them. But we are ready to face the negative impact of cutting these ties in an eventual absence of an apology from the Israeli side,” said the diplomat.
Turkey is considering downgrading its ties with Israel to a “charge d’affairs” level, as they were in the 1980s, according to Zaman.