Turkey

New Turkish flotilla to Gaza planned

By Jennifer Lipman, June 16, 2010

The Turkish group behind the flotilla which sailed towards Gaza in May has announced it is planning to send more ships.

The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid (IHH), said they would be sending a repeat convoy of at least six ships.

IHH, which allegedly has links with Islamic militant organisations, told members of the European Parliament the ships will set off for Gaza in July.

The move comes after Israeli cabinet ministers met to discuss easing the blockade of Gaza.

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Turkey and Hamas to sue Israel flotilla officers

By Jessica Elgot, June 10, 2010

The Hamas justice minister has agreed a deal with Turkey to sue the Israeli officers who took part in the Gaza flotilla raid.

London-based newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat reported that Hamas’ Faraj al-Ghoul told his Turkish opposite number, Sadullah Ergin, in a telephone conversation, that Hamas had decided to pursue legally the naval officers through international courts.

Hamas said that Turkey had agreed to support Gaza residents, and to stand "stand-by-side" with them.

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Turkey and Israel relations in crisis after flotilla

By Anshel Pfeffer and Sami Kohen, Istanbul, June 3, 2010

The Gaza flotilla affair has plunged the crisis in the Israel-Turkey relationship to new lows and added impetus to Israeli efforts to find alternative allies in the region.

Israeli diplomats admitted this week that the relationship with the Ankara government has never been this bad.

"If we thought that Prime Minister Erdogan could not make things any worse," said one diplomat, "his support for the flotilla and his attacks on us this week have made it clear that there is no longer any strategic alliance between the two countries. At least, not while he is in power."

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Turkey gives Gaza ultimatum to Israel

By Jennifer Lipman, June 2, 2010

Turkey’s foreign minister has said the country would normalise ties with Israel if it lifts the blockade of Gaza

Following the IDF raid of a flotilla ship on Monday, which left nine dead including several Turkish nationals, Ahmet Davutogu said: "It is time calm replaces anger".

He said: "I see no reason for not normalising the ties, once the Gaza blockade is lifted and our citizens are released."

His comments came as Turkish planes arrived in Israel to take the activists home.

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Gaza protesters killed in clash with IDF

May 31, 2010

Up to sixteen members of a Turkish Gaza protest organisation are said to have been killed by Israeli forces after fighting on board a flotilla of ships en route to Gaza.

The ships, part of an ‘aid convoy’ from the ‘Free Gaza’ organisation, a Turkish based group, had left northern Cyprus on Sunday. Six boats carried 600 activists. One of those on board was Mairead Corrigan Maguire, the Northern Ireland peace protester who won a Nobel Prize in 1976.

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Turkish PM rules against media hate

By Sami Kohen, May 21, 2010

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned government and municipal authorities not to discriminate against non-Muslims, and instructed the country's judicial authorities to act against print and broadcast material that provokes racial and religious hatred.

"Although legal readjustments were made on matters concerning the non-Muslim minorities in our democratisation programme, it has been noticed that these have not been fully implemented," he said in a decree.

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Israel wary of Iranian nuclear deal with Turkey

By Jessica Elgot, May 18, 2010

An Israeli government official has called Iran’s new nuclear deal with Turkey and Brazil a “trick”, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met cabinet members to discuss their concerns.

An agreement was signed yesterday in Tehran that Iran would ship enriched uranium to Turkey.

The enriched uranium would be exchanged for nuclear rods – which can be used in scientific research but cannot be processed to make weapons. However, Iran has said it will still continue to enrich its own uranium.

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Iran agrees nuclear deal with Brazil and Turkey

By Jessica Elgot, May 17, 2010

Iran has agreed to ship low enriched uranium to Turkey, but has said it will still continue to enrich uranium to up to 20 per cent.

After talks with Brazil and Turkey, Iran has agreed to exchange Iran’s stocks of enriched uranium in exchange for nuclear fuel rods, for use in scientific research.

Although nuclear weapons need uranium enriched to 90 per cent, the deal deprives Iran of its current stocks of enriched uranium, which could be used in future bomb production. Fuel rods cannot be processed any further than their current state.

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Turks elect their chief rabbi

May 6, 2010

Rabbi Isak Haleva has been re-elected Chief Rabbi of Turkey for a seven-year term under a unique system which allows Jewish men and women over the age of 18 to choose their religious leader.

Rabbi Haleva, 69, received 4,268 votes while his rival, 45-year-old Ilhan Eli Levy, an Istanbul-born rabbi currently living in Jerusalem, got only 343 votes.

Polling stations operated in synagogues in Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara, Adana, Bursa and other cities where smaller Jewish communities exist. There was a higher turnout this time than in previous elections.

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Turkish authorities stall rabbi election

By Sami Kohen, March 4, 2010

The Turkish Chief Rabbi, Isak Haleva, has complained to the government after it stalled for months on authorising elections for a new holder of the office.

Rabbi Haleva's seven-year term of office expired last autumn, but elections could not be held because of a row between the Turkish authorities and the community over the official title of the post.

The authorities refused, for reasons that were never explained, to allow the next holder of the post to be called "Chief rabbi of Turkey", and insisted instead on simply "Chief rabbi".

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