Turkey Closes Airspace to Israeli Traffic
The deterioration in relations continues between Jerusalem and Ankara in the wake of the events surrounding the Gaza flotilla. After fiery anti Israel remarks from Turkey’s leaders, the blow to economic and security ties and the demand for compensation and an apology, comes yet another sanction. Prime Minister Erdogan was quoted as saying: Israel planes will not be allowed to fly in our airspace.

After anti Israel boycotting moves were taken by Turkey in response to the IDF’s takeover of the aid flotilla to Gaza at the end of last month, today, Turkish Prime Minsiter Regep Tayyip Erdogan announced that his country has closed its airspace to Israeli planes, as reported by the Anatolia News Agency. According to the report, Erdogan told journalists in Canada that Turkey had imposed a ban on Israeli flights due to the IDF’s raid on the Gaza aid flotilla.

This is another step taken by the Turkish government against Israel since a week and a half ago when they announced that they were not returning their ambassador to Israel unless Israel apologizes, returns the captured boats, agrees to an international probe, and offers compensation to the flotilla victims.

Turkey, which had a solid relationship with Israel until operation Cast Lead in 2009, has lately cancelled three joint military exercises and said that it would downgrade military ties and trade ties with Israel including energy initiatives, natural gas, and cooperation regarding fresh water reserves.

Two days ago, the United States warned Ankara against actions that go against the position of the US. A senior member of Obama administration warned Turkey in a rare move and said that it must act together with its partners in the West.

“We believe that Turkey is still bound to NATO, Europe, and the United States, but this must be shown practically,” said Phillip Gordon, the most senior diplomat serving in Europe from the Obama administration.

Meanwhile, the first deliberation of the Tirkel Committee will take place regarding the events on the flotilla. Two foreign observers landed in Israel yesterday, and its members will gather for their first meeting this morning.

The observers, chief military prosecutor of Canada, Ken Wittgen, and Lord Willian David Trimbel, will arrive for the first meeting also this morning.

“On behalf of myself and my colleagues in the committee, I want to thank you for your willingness to come and contribute your experience to this important committee,” Judge Emeritus Ya’akov Tirkel told them yesterday during the welcoming ceremonies.