Turkey excluded Israel over Gaza, foreign minister says

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Turkey’s foreign minister said his country excluded Israel from a joint military exercise because of its military offensive in Gaza.

Ahmet Davutoglu acknowledged Monday on CNN that Turkey-Israel relations are suffering as a result of the operation to defang Hamas and stop the constant rocket attacks on southern Israel.

"We hope that the situation in Gaza will be improved, that the situation will be back to the diplomatic track," Davutoglu said after being asked why Turkey omitted Israel from the drill.

"And that will create a new atmosphere in Turkish-Israeli relations as well," he added. "But in the existing situation, of course, we are criticizing this approach, the Israeli approach."

Turkey had said a technical problem delayed the NATO drill in which the United States and Italy also were to have participated. Monday’s exercise was canceled after the U.S. and Italy pulled out over the snub to Israel. 

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak voiced his concern Monday about the harm to Israel’s relationship with Turkey.

"The relations between Israel and Turkey are strategic and have been maintained for dozens of years," Barak reportedly told a closed meeting, according to Ha’aretz.

Government officials  reportedly held an emergency meeting over the weekend to address the foundering relationship between Israel and Turkey.
 

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