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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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".


The Turkish 'golden age' is over

By Sami Kohen, January 21, 2010

The recent crisis between Israel and Turkey over Israeli deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon’s public humiliation of the Turkish ambassador seems to have been resolved following Defence Minister Ehud Barak’s visit on Sunday to Ankara. But in the long-term, there seems little chance of an improvement in the strained relations between the two countries.


Barak is Israel’s de-facto foreign minister

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 21, 2010

No new strategic agreements or arms deals were signed during Defence Minister Ehud Barak’s visit to Ankara on Sunday; he did not even get to meet the prime minister.

Still, the half-day trip was described as “very positive”. These days, any diplomatic contact between Israel and Turkey that does not end acrimoniously is seen as a definite success.


Crisis after Israel 'humiliates' Turkey

By Anshel Pfeffer and Sami Kohen, January 14, 2010

Relations between Israel and Turkey hit an all-time low this week after Israel’s deputy foreign minister publicly humiliated the Turkish ambassador in Jerusalem.

Turkey threatened to order its ambassador home and the matter was only resolved after Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon personally apologised, twice.

The row broke out on Monday when Mr Ayalon called in Turkish Ambassador Oguz Celikkol to rebuke him over the second drama series to be broadcast on Turkish television recently showing Israeli agents murdering civilians.


Turkey threat to recall envoy after Ayalon row

By Jessica Elgot, January 13, 2010

Turkey has threatened to recall its ambassador to Israel after his alleged humiliating reprimand by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.

Turkish envoy Ahmet Oguz Celikkol was apparently made to sit in a low chair during his heated discussions with Mr Ayalon, who refused to shake his hand. He was called in after a TV programme aired on Turkish TV which depicted IDF soldiers as brutal killers and babysnatchers.

Mr Ayalon also allegedly told reporters that they should photograph the ambassador sitting in the low chair.