Erdogan suspends all bilateral defense agreements with Israel

Turkish daily "Zaman": The cabinet has decided to attempt to isolate Israel. Contracts worth billions of dollars are at stake.

Turkish daily "Zaman" reports that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in his capacity as chairman of the Defense Industry Implementation Committee, has shelved 16 bilateral defense agreements, on the grounds that Israel refuses to apologize or pay compensation for boarding the Mavi Marmara ship carrying aid to Gaza, which resulted in nine deaths. Eight of the dead were Turkish citizens.

"Zaman" adds that the cabinet has decided to attempt to isolate Israel in the international arena. "Following the condemnation of the Israeli military’s actions by the UN, NATO, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Arab League and the Turkish-Arab Cooperation Forum, Turkey will attempt to isolate Israel in every arena, leaving the nation to stand alone. A new strategy will also be implemented in an attempt to sway the attitude of the European Union with regard to Israel."

All Turkish-Israeli agreements at the state level have been cancelled. The cabinet has outlined a roadmap detailing a process through which Turkey will completely cut its ties with Israel and comprises several stages.

First, should Israel fail to send a member to a UN investigatory commission being formed to look into the deadly raid, Turkey will not send its ambassador back to Tel Aviv. Furthermore, Turkey will not in any way recognize the Israeli-led investigation into its own troops’ attack on the Mavi Marmara.

"Zaman" says that all bilateral of military training and cooperation have been frozen, including a $757 million plane and tank modernization project and a missile project worth over $1.5 billion.

The Turkish Army had been planning to collaborate with Israel on a $5 billion tank project within the next 10 years. Israel wants to sell 1,000 Merkava Mark III combat tanks to Turkey, worth $5 billion, but this project has been shelved. Turkey has also abandoned several joint weapon platform modernization programs, including a $50 million for M-60 tanks, a $632.5 million program for 54 F-4 Phantom, and $75 million program for 48 F-5 fighter bombers.

Turkey has abandoned plans to buy two Israeli two patrol aircraft and Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft for $800 million, a $500 million program for the joint production of Popeye II air-to-air missiles, a $150 million program to produce long-range Delilah missiles.

Turkish F-16 pilots will not be sent to Israel for training as planned, and joint military exercises will a not be held. No international military exercises will be held with Israeli participation and Turkish airspace will be closed to Israeli military aircraft.

Turkey has called off further meetings on Israel's Arrow anti-ballistic missile system, plastic mine detectors, and terrestrial radar systems to prevent infiltrations into Turkey from its borders with Syria and Iraq. Turkey has abandoned these plans as well as plans to purchase from Israel.

Turkey has also frozen an anti-terrorist agreement, which "Zaman" says provided Turkey with valuable intelligence on Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) terrorist organization camps in Lebanon in the 1980s.

Turkish Foreign Trade Minister Zafer Caglayan warned Israel against boycotting Turkish goods, saying that Turkey would react harshly. Reacting on Wednesday to reports yet to be confirmed with Israeli authorities that an Israeli court had, after the Mavi Marmara incident, ordered an injunction on the bank accounts and $10 million in receivables of Turkish Yilmazlar Group construction firm in Israel, he said that there should be a distinction made between political relations and commercial ties.

However, Erdogan said that corporate relations between Israeli and Turkish companies, including defense contractors, would be left to the discretion of the companies involved.

A spokesman for Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE:ESLT) told "Globes" "We don't know of any changes in the projects in which we are involved." Meanwhile, an investigation by "Globes" found that many of the aforementioned deals have already been completed, or were never made.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on June 17, 2010

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2010

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