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TURKEY: Ankara adds Israel to list of strategic security threats

November 1, 2010 |  8:36 am

Flotilla funeral AFP

Turkey and Israel are at it again, but this time it's over reports that Turkey has added Israel to its so-called "Red Book," the top-secret security document that lists the country's threats and enemies.

Israeli tourism minister Stas Misezhnikov struck back on Sunday by calling on Israelis to boycott Turkey as a tourist destination out of "national honor."

According to Turkish media, the Red Book, which is amended every five years, now identifies Israel as a "strategic threat" to Turkey.

The document, which is drawn up by Turkey's National Security Council, accuses Israel of being a destabilizing force and says Israeli actions could provoke a regional arms race.

Conflicting reports emerged over whether or not Iran, considered a major security threat by Turkey's NATO allies, had been removed from the same list.

Although the contents of the Red Book are ostensibly a state secret, leaks to the Turkish press indicate Ankara is losing patience with Israel and wants to send a message.

Turkey continues to demand an apology and compensation from Israel for raiding a Turkish aid flotilla in international waters on May 31 and killing eight Turks and one Turkish-American activist. Israel maintains its soldiers acted in self-defense. A United Nations report released in September found enough evidence to prosecute the Israelis for war crimes including "willful killing" and "torture or unhumane treatment."

But despite evidence to the contrary, Turkish officials repeatedly deny a shift in foreign policy even as tensions with Israel rise and ties with Syria and Iran strengthen. Ankara is also frustrated by the pace of its quest to become a full European Union member. 

Earlier this month, Ankara voiced suspicions that a NATO missile shield aimed at Iran was prompted by Israeli security concerns.

Still, Turkey is not ready to abandon its ties to Israel completely. Last week, Turkish and Israeli scholars gathered in Ankara amid the diplomatic crisis and concluded that relations were salvageable.

Ozlem Tur, a scholar at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, was quoted by the Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman saying that Turkish-Israeli relations will not improve so long as there is no change in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

“Without an apology and compensation, the relations will not go anywhere," she said of the flotilla raid. "Israel has to comply with the results of the U.N. investigation."

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo: The death of nine Turkish citizens caused widespread outrage in Turkey and may have prompted the inclusion of Israel on a list of security threats. Credit: AFP

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