Expert: Turkey Moving Closer to Islamic World

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JERUSALEM -- The sudden downturn in Israeli-Turkish relations is a sign that Turkey is moving closer to the Islamic world, an Israeli expert said here on Thursday.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman summoned the Turkish Ambassador to a meeting on Thursday to protest the broadcasting of a television series which incites against Israel on Turkish state television.

In the first episode which aired on Tuesday the television program portrayed Israeli soldiers killing a baby and a young girl and lining up Palestinians to shoot them in a firing squad, reports said.

"This series, which has absolutely no connection to reality, and which presents IDF soldiers as murderers of innocent children, is not fit to be broadcast even in the most hostile countries, and certainly not in a country that has full diplomatic relations with Israel," Lieberman said in a statement.

The airing of the program followed several recent unsettling incidents: earlier this week  Turkey's refusal to allow Israel to participate in a military excercise, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's accusations of the Israeli killing of children in Gaza, and Ankara's announcement of joint military maneuvers with Syria.

Turkey, which has a long history of secularism, has for the last few years been ruled by an Islamic-oriented government.

Prof. Efraim Inbar, from the BESA Center for Strategic Studies near Tel Aviv, told CBN News that all these moves indicate that Turkey is moving closer to the Islamic world and distancing itself from the West.

Israel has had strong strategic ties with Turkey for years but that may now be ending, said Inbar. Israel has upgraded airplanes and tanks for the Turks and sold them missiles and other military equipment, he said.

Relations with Israel are the "litmus test" of secularism, said Inbar.  Turkey is going in the Muslim direction and their foreign policy has a "greater Muslim coloration", he said.

They have deviated from the West. They accepted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Sudanese leadership and the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas, he said.

They seem to prefer the Syrian and Iranian dictatorships to Israel's democracy, he added.

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Julie Stahl

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