Turkish PM 'totally suspends' defence trade links with Israel



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
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine