ANKARA – Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country is suspending trade defence ties with Israel. The move follows the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador over its refusal to apologise for the 2010 raid on a flotilla of activists heading for Gaza, in which nine Turks were killed, BBC News reported.
A UN report has concluded that Israel used “excessive force” in its raid, but that the naval blockade was legal. Turkey has vowed to take the case to the International Court of Justice.
Erdogan said Turkey was “totally suspending” defence industry ties with Israel, after downgrading diplomatic relations with the country. “Trade ties, military ties, regarding defence industry ties, we are completely suspending them,” he told reporters in Ankara. “This process will be followed by different measures.”
Asked to clarify whether this meant Turkey will halt more than USD 3 billion in bilateral trade, an official in the Turkish prime ministry, speaking on condition of anonymity under government protocol, insisted Erdogan was not referring to trade relations, according to CNN.
Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador on September 2 and also suspended military co-operation with Israel last week. Israel has expressed regret for the loss of lives. But Erdogan described the raid as “savagery” and accused Israel of acting like “a spoiled boy” in the region.
The nine pro-Palestinian activists who died were on board the Turkish-flagged ship, Mavi Marmara, when it was intercepted by the Israeli navy in international waters as it sailed towards Gaza’s coast on 31 May 2010. At the time, the Israeli military said its commandos fired live rounds only after being attacked with clubs, knives and guns. But activists on board said the commandos started shooting as soon as they hit the deck.
The UN inquiry found Israel’s naval blockade had been “imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law”.