Naharnet

Turkey Expels Israeli Ambassador over Gaza Flotilla

Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador to Ankara on Friday and suspended all military ties with its one-time ally after a U.N. report condemned excessive force used by Israel on a Gaza aid flotilla.

"At this point the measures we are taking are: The relations between Turkey and Israel will be downgraded to second secretary level. All officials over the level of second secretary, primarily the ambassador, will turn back to their country at the latest on Wednesday," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said at a press conference.

Davutoglu counted five measures against Israel as a protest for its failure to fulfill Turkey's demands to overcome the crisis erupted after Israeli commandoes stormed the flagship of the aid flotilla and killed nine Turks.

"Second, all the military agreements between Israel and Turkey are suspended," he said.

"Third, as the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean, Turkey will take every precaution it considers necessary for the safety of maritime navigation to East Mediterranean," he said.

Davutoglu said Turkey did not recognize Israel's right to blockade Gaza and intended to take its protest to The International Court of Justice in The Hague.

"For this aim, we are starting initiatives at U.N. Security Council," he added.

However, Israel was mulling Friday its response to Turkey's decision.

A senior government official said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office was holding consultations before deciding how to react on Turkey's actions.


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