|Israel’s hawkish foreign minister is planning a series of measures to retaliate against Turkey in an apology row, including military aid to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a news report said on Friday.|
|Other planned measures are cooperation with the Armenian lobby in the US in its efforts to win recognition for Armenian claims that 1.5 million Armenians were victims of a genocide campaign in the late Ottoman Empire during the First World War years and to issue a travel warning urging all Israeli military veterans to refrain from traveling to Turkey, according to the report in Yedioth Ahranoth. The travel advisory will also urge Israelis to refrain from boarding connections in Turkey, the report said.
The planned measures apparently came out of a meeting attended by senior Israeli Foreign Ministry officials on Thursday, which the report said was held in preparation for a meeting on Saturday that will be attended by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a harsh critic of efforts to restore relations with Turkey after Ankara announced a set of sanctions against Israel for its refusal to apologize for the killing of eight Turks and one Turkish American on an aid ship trying to break the blockade of Gaza on May 31, 2010.
Accordingly, Lieberman insists that the Israeli efforts should focus on ways to respond to Turkey’s sanctions, not formulating an apology for the 2010 incident, because what Turkey is interested is not an apology but exploiting the dispute with Israel so as to boost its regional standing.
Saturday’s meeting will reportedly focus on those ways to respond to Turkey.
The Turkish government announced last Friday that it downgrades diplomatic relations with Israel and suspends military agreements. It also promised to take measures to ensure freedom of navigation in the eastern Mediterranean, where the 2010 incident took place, without elaborating. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared on Thursday that Turkish warships would escort future convoys to the Gaza Strip to prevent a repeat of the deadly Israeli raid last year.
Yedioth Ahranoth said Lieberman plans meetings with PKK leaders in Europe in order to find ways to cooperate with them “in every possible area.”In these meetings, the PKK leaders may ask Israel for military aid in the form of training and arms supplies, the report said.
Lieberman is also planning active Israeli participation in efforts worldwide to report Turkey’s “violations of human rights” in treatment of minorities in Turkey.
“We’ll exact a price from Erdoğan that will prove to him that messing with Israel doesn’t pay off. Turkey better treat us with respect and common decency,” Lieberman was quoted as saying.
Whether Lieberman’s threats could ever be implemented remains questionable. Turkey’s demand for an apology has divided the Israeli government, with hawks such as Lieberman strictly opposing it while others insisting that a way must be found to restore ties because Turkey is an ally of critical importance for Israel.
On Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel and Turkey will eventually mend fences rather than become foes, dismissing their apology dispute as “spilled milk.”
Speaking on Friday, another Israeli official said Erdoğan’s threat of sending warships to eastern Mediterranean was “grave and serious” but refused to go into a war of words.
“Turkey, which declares that Israel is not above international law, must understand that it isn’t either,” Dan Meridor, the Israeli Cabinet minister in charge of intelligence, said. “I do not think it would be correct to get into verbal saber rattling with him now. I think that our silence is the best answer, and I hope this will pass ” Meridor told Army Radio. “I think anyone who is listening can make their own mind up about him and the direction he has chosen.”
09 September 2011, Friday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM