Turkey has decided to downgrade its diplomatic ties with Israel to the lowest possible level, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Friday, following Israel's continued refusal to apologize for a 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.
The findings of a UN probe into Israel's deadly raid on a 2010 flotilla to Gaza known as the Palmer Commission Report, which were leaked to The New York Times Thursday, have further raised tensions between Israel and Turkey, and senior Foreign Ministry officials warned that Turkey could respond to the report's publication by expelling the Israeli ambassador and scaling back diplomatic relations...
...Hinting at the possible consequences of Turkey's disagreement with the UN's interpretation of Israel's blockade, the Turkish FM said that Ankara would "do whatever it takes to implement its interpretation of the significance of international waters in the Mediterranean."
"We cannot accept the blockade on Gaza. We cannot say that the blockade aligns with international law," he said, adding that the stance taken by the Palmer Commission Report was the author's "personal opinion, one which does not correspond with Turkey's position."
Additionally, Davutoglu announced the cancellation of all defense contracts between Israel and Turkey, adding that Ankara would both initiaite legal action against the Gaza blockade in international courts, as well as aid families of those killed in the Gaza flotilla raid in seeking litigation against Israel. more
A United Nations investigation has backed Israel's naval blockade of Gaza as legal but said its military assault on a flotilla of pro-Palestinian activists last year, in which nine Turks were killed, was "excessive and unreasonable".
The report notes that Israel has not satisfactorily explained how it is that most of the dead were shot multiple times, including in the back, and at close range. But it also said the organisers of the flotilla acted "recklessly" in attempting to breach the blockade.
The report is expected to be released on Friday after months of delay because of a dispute between Israel and Turkey over its contents and Ankara's demand for an apology from Israel for the deaths of its citizens.
Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, gave Israel one day to make the apology or face a further deterioration in relations with what had been the Jewish state's closest ally in the region. Turkey has already withdrawn its ambassador from Tel Aviv.
The Israeli government has repeatedly refused to make a full apology, although it has offered to express regret, saying it had a legal right to defend itself by maintaining the blockade of Gaza to prevent weapons reaching the Palestinian enclave...
... "No satisfactory explanation has been provided to the panel by Israel for any of the nine deaths. Forensic evidence showing that most of the deceased were shot multiple times, including in the back, or at close range has not been adequately accounted for in the material presented by Israel," it said.more