|Turkey Making Threatening Noises|
- Friday, May 28 2004, 17:22:51 (CEST)|
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Turkey Making Threatening Noises
16:45 May 27, '04 / 7 Sivan 5764
Turkey, the only Moslem nation with which Israel enjoys full diplomatic, economic and friendly relations, is threatening to recall its Ambassador.
Turkey, the only Moslem nation with which Israel enjoys full diplomatic, economic and friendly relations, is sending signals that the honeymoon is over. For possibly the fifth time in recent weeks, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Israel of state-sponsored terrorism, while Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said yesterday that he is considering withdrawing Turkey's Ambassador to Israel "for consultations."
Gul explained yesterday that his country wishes to signal Israel its displeasure at Israel's recent anti-terrorism offensive in southern Gaza. Commentators say that Turkey is also upset at Israel's refusal to allow Turkey to mediate between Israel and Syria, as well as possible Israeli contacts with the Kurds in Iraq; both Turkey and Syria do not want to see a Kurdish state arise in their region.
Israel has enjoyed positive relations with Turkey, which borders Israel's northern neighbor Lebanon, for a decade. Turkey, long known as a secular Moslem country, elected a religious Moslem government last year.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yonatan Peled expressed Israel's dissatisfaction with Gul's warning: "Israeli-Turkish relations are strong and substantial, and they serve the interests of both countries. Even if there are disagreements sometimes, these can be discussed and clarified - but the recall of an ambassador between two friendly nations is uncalled for."
It was reported two weeks ago that Turkey had canceled $11 billion in tenders, including a $700 million contract for Israel Military Industries to upgrade hundreds of M-60 tanks used by the Turkish military. Last month, Turkey suddenly canceled a visit by Trade Minister Ehud Olmert and a group of businessmen.
Israeli tourism to Turkey is very significant, and Israel has recently finalized a contract for the purchase of large amounts of water from Turkey.
MK Ehud Yatom (Likud), a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, was critical of Turkey's move. Noting that Turkey has also become a target for Al-Qaeda attacks, he said that it "must decide which camp it belongs to - that of Western nations headed by the US fighting against international terrorism, or the other side."
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