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
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
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: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project