Turkish PM 'totally suspends' defence trade links with Israel

 

Jerusalem

Turkey's Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has threatened to widen sanctions against Israel – which he accused of behaving like a "spoiled boy" – and confirmed he was considering a politically highly sensitive visit to Gaza, possibly as early as next week.

The crisis in Israel-Turkish relations deepened as Mr Erdogan said his government was "totally suspending" defence industry links after Israel refused to apologise for the killing of nine Turks on a Gaza-bound flotilla 15 months ago.

Mr Erdogan said there would also be an enhanced Turkish naval presence to ensure "freedom of navigation" in the eastern Mediterranean and declared: "Trade ties, military ties, regarding defence industry ties, we are completely suspending them." He added without elaboration: "This process will be followed by different measures."

The moves follow Turkey's expulsion of Israel's ambassador last Friday in the wake of the publication of a UN report, which criticised Israel for using "excessive and unreasonable" force during the flotilla raid. The report also said Israel's naval blockade of Gaza was legal and justified – a conclusion that Turkey rejects.

A visit to Gaza by Mr Erdogan, which would be the first by a head of government since Hamas seized full control of it in 2007, would guarantee the Turkish Prime Minister a hero's welcome, and would further exacerbate the virtual breakdown of relations between Turkey and Israel.

Mr Erdogan, who is expected to visit Egypt next week to pursue a new strengthened alliance with Cairo, said: "We will make our final decision after consulting with our Egyptian friends. There may be a visit to Gaza or not. It is not certain." He has long been a leading critic of Israel's policy towards Gaza, and would need Egyptian co-operation to enter the Palestinian territory through its southern Rafah crossing.

Mr Erdogan did not spell out exactly what trade ties he envisaged suspending, but an aide to the Turkish Prime Minister told The Wall Street Journal the government was envisaging not a general trade embargo, but one affecting defence industries, "for now".

The Governor of the Bank of Israel, Stanley Fischer, warned earlier this week that the Turkish economy was thriving and that "the consequences of not having trading relations with Turkey will be expensive".

There was no formal comment on Mr Erdogan's remarks from Israel's foreign ministry yesterday. An Israeli official stressed that the government did want to escalate the dispute, which has seen its embassy downgraded such that it is now headed by a second secretary.

Meanwhile, Alon Liel, a former director general of Israel's foreign ministry and a strong advocate of maintaining good Israel-Turkish relations, said Israel and the US would do "everything possible" to prevent Mr Erdogan from visiting Gaza, where he would be treated "like a God".

Mr Liel pointed out that it took 11 years for the previous diplomatic downgrading in 1980 to end. He claimed that the Israeli Cabinet had overruled an earlier agreement between officials in which Israel would have said it was apologising "if there had been irregularities" during the lethal operation aboard the Mavi Marmara, the lead vessel in the flotilla. But he doubted that an apology would enough to defuse the crisis now. "This is not something that will be rescued soon," he said.

Mr Liel said he did not envisage that Mr Erdogan would be able to cancel trade agreements between private companies in Turkey and Israel. But he would be able to halt trade between Israel and public bodies in Turkey.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower