The fall-out of the Gaza war continues to plague ties between Israel and Turkey, with a joint military exercise, which had been planned earlier, becoming its latest casualty.
Israeli Foreign Ministry sources have been quoted as saying Turkey had recently asked Israel not to participate in an air exercise, citing the objectionable use of Israeli air power in Gaza.
The United States and NATO were the other participants in the now aborted multi-national drill.
The Israelis apparently contacted the Americans, once Ankara raised its demand. As a result, the entire exercise has been indefinitely postponed.
Israel and Turkey had emerged as strategic partners in the mid-nineties, sharing a strong military and commercial relationship.
Last year, Turkey had mediated talks between Israel and Syria, because of its close proximity to both countries. However, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed Israel’s winter incursion into Gaza, which had caused substantial number of civilian casualties.
The Gaza attack led to an altercation in January between Israeli President Shimon Peres and Mr. Erdogan, resulting in the latter’s walkout at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu cancelled his visits to Israel recently after Israel denied him a visit to the Gaza Strip from Israeli territory. While ties with Israel are taking a nosedive, there has been a marked improvement in Turkey’s relationship with Iran, Syria and Qatar.