Turkey Threatens Israel with cut-off of Diplomatic Relations

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Post-flotilla, Juan Cole looks at the diplomatic situation between Turkey and Israel:

Thousands gathered in Istanbul to pray alongside the coffins of victims of the Gaza flotilla raid. Photograph: Ibrahim Usta/AP

As Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu flew to Washington, DC, on Monday,  a further war of words has broken out between Turkey and Israel over comments made by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to the press corps on an airplane returning from Kyrgyzstan. The Zaman correspondent heard him to say of Israel, “It will either apologize, or it will consent to a study by an international commission, or the relations will break off.”

Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister whom Davutoglu apparently declines to deal with, shot back, “We don’t have any intention to apologize. We think that the opposite is true.” Lieberman, a notorious thug who once advocated drowning all the Egyptians by bombing the Aswan Dam if they ever gave Israel any trouble, is a Moldavian immigrant to Israel not known for being diplomatic.

Davutoglu is probably not serious about presenting Israel with an ultimatum, and may have been especially interested in posturing as a hard liner because he was embarrassed with the Turkish cabinet and in the Arab world when it came out that he had had a secret meeting with Israeli Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer last week. Ben-Eliezer, an Iraqi from Basra originally named “Fuad,” had earlier in his career been a hard liner, but compared to Lieberman he has emerged as a voice of reason. Davutoglu was widely criticized in Turkey and Arab capitals for the secret talks.

Read the rest at juancole.com….



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