JERUSALEM--Israel is reassessing its relationship with Turkey after the Turks cancelled a high level military exercise last week, which was to have included the U.S. and other NATO members, as well as Israel.
Turkey's leaders decided to exclude Israel from the aerial excercises to be held in south central Turkey, in retaliation for Israel's military operation in Gaza last winter. The U.S., Italy and the Netherlands declined to take part in the exercises if Israel was not included, so the drill was scrapped.
Israel's Foreign Ministry held an emergency session Sunday to decide how to respond to the crisis. Defense Minister Ehud Barak tried to keep a lid on the simmering tensions. His office issued a statement calling Israel's relationship with Turkey "strategic."
"In spite of ups and downs, Turkey continues to be a central figure in our region," the statement read. "There is no place for getting drawn into fiery statements against them."
The Israeli daily newspaper Ha'aretz quotes one senior Foreign Ministry official who says this is the first time the government in Ankara, whose prime minister is the leader of an Islamic religious party, has violated at tripartite agreement between the United States, Israel and Turkey.
Sources: Ha'aretz, YnetNews