Last updated: 10 September, 2011

Turkish official slams mooted Israeli reprisals

Turkish parliament speaker Cemil Cicek on Saturday blasted ideas attributed to hawkish Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman for hitting back at Ankara in the row between the two countries.

Israel’s Yediot Aharonot daily reported Friday that Lieberman had suggested supporting recognition by the US Senate of Armenian genocide by Turkey, backing the Kurdish separatist PKK and launching a diplomatic offensive against Ankara.

“It’s very troubling that someone with the rank of minister should make such irresponsible remarks,” Cicek said on Turkish television.

He attacked the proposals as “blackmail” and said that if they were put into effect the crisis between Israel and Turkey would become “more complex and more inextricable”.

On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that the cabinet had considered various responses to a further worsening of already stormy relations with Turkey but had not taken action.

A statement said that Netanyahu and his ministers discussed “various theoretical options in the event of escalation”.

“The decision on this will be taken only if and when necessary,” it said. “Israel acts and will act responsibly and hopes that Turkey will also act in the same way,” it said.

Israel and Turkey have been locked in a bitter dispute since May 2010 when Israeli naval commandos stormed the international Freedom Flotilla, a convoy of six ships trying to reach Gaza in defiance of an Israeli blockade, killing nine Turkish nationals.

The crisis deepened over the past week with Turkey expelling the Israeli ambassador and axing military ties and defence trade.