Herb Keinon
The Jerusalem Post (Analysis)
September 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that Turkey was "totally suspending" defense ties with Israel, after downgrading diplomatic relations with the country.

While it was initially reported that Erdogan had also suspended all trade ties between the two nations, this was later clarified to refer to defense-related trade only.

"Trade ties, military ties, defense industry ties - we are completely suspending them. This process will be followed by different measures," Erdogan told reporters in Ankara.

But the Wall Street Journal later quoted a spokesman for the Turkish premier who said the announcement only concerned defense trade, not private trade of goods and merchandise

Erdogan also said that Turkey would implement further sanctions against Israel and said that "our ships will be seen more frequently in [the Eastern Mediterranean]."

The announcement came as diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel were severely strained following the release of the Palmer Commission report on the raid of the Mavi Marmara and Israel's refusal to answer Ankara's insistence that it issue an apology for the incident.

Erdogan also told reporters that he may visit Gaza and would decide whether to do so after talks with Egypt. Erdogan is planning to visit Cairo later this month.

A senior Israeli official on Sunday warned that it would be a diplomatic mistake for Erdogan to visit the Gaza Strip.

Channel 2 quoted the official as saying Erdogan would damage Turkey's relations with the United States by visiting Gaza. He added that the move would also weaken Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, presumably because a trip to Hamas-controlled Gaza would challenge him as the legitimate representative of the Palestinians.

The Qatar News Agency quoted Turkish Deputy Premier Bulent Arinc as saying in a statement on Sunday that Erdogan was scheduled to meet with the head of Egypt's ruling military council, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and other leading Egyptian politicians and intellectuals during the visit.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017