Israel not on the list for NATO summit in Chicago

By Sandy Rashty, May 11, 2012

Israel will not be invited to the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance conference in Chicago at the end of this month, following the collapse in its relationship with Turkey.

Israel is a member of the Mediterranean Dialogue, a NATO outreach group whose other members include Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania, and Algeria. Representations of 60 nations and international organisations, Qatar and Georgia included, will attend the Chicago summit.

Last month Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Israel should not take part unless the Netanyahu government issued a formal apology and paid compensation for the clash on the Gaza-bound flotilla two years ago, an incident in which nine Turkish activists died.

But NATO secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, denied that Israel's absence was down to Turkish pressure. He said Israel had not been invited because it does not participate in NATO military missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo.

"No one has blocked an invitation [to Israel] because it's not been an issue," said Mr Rasmussen.

Ties between Israel and Turkey, once strong, have largely collapsed in the wake of the flotilla clash. Last September the Israeli ambassador to Turkey was expelled and has not yet been replaced.

Last updated: 3:53pm, May 11 2012