Turkey Vetoes Israeli Presence at NATO Summit

This morning, a Turkish official announced that Turkey will not allow Israel to attend a NATO conference next month until it apologizes for the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010 that left IDF soldiers injured and several IHH terrorists dead.

According to the official, a NATO conference is set to be held in Chicago on May 20-21 and will be hosted by US President Barack Obama.  Several countries have requested Israel’s attendance because of its close relationship with the organization and members and strengthen cooperation.  Israel is already part of the Mediterranean Dialogue, six non-NATO nations aligned with the group that participate in military exercises such as those routinely held over the airspace of countries in the Mediterranean Sea region.  NATO officials were quoted as saying that the issue had never been discussed by any members.

Last month, Turkey once against raised the issue of Israel’s connection to NATO with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutogulu railing against the country.  The US, France and NATO Secretary General criticized Turkey, saying NATO was not the forum for a discussion of Turkish diplomatic issues with Israel.  During that meeting in Brussels, Turkey reiterated its demands for Israel to apologize and end its blockade of Gaza.  Other nations also criticized Turkey, complaining that it keeps mixing its diplomatic disputes NATO’s sole purpose of being a military/strategic organization.

This latest outburst by Turkey is the latest in several since the downgrade of relationships between Israel and Turkey following the Mavi Marmara incident and the Palmer report that exonerated of Israel of all responsibility for the events in May 2010.  In 2010, Turkey demanded that Portugal not share any radar information with Israel and has also changed its radars to show Israeli warplanes as enemies.  Turkey reiterated those demands to the US last year and said it would not allow Iran or any other Muslim nation to be a target.

Turkey’s refusal to allow Israeli participation has been echoed by other nations, who have said they only object on the grounds that nations such as Afghanistan would withdraw any sort of cooperation if Israel joins.

Israel has not commented on the conference nor its participation at this time.