Israel: Turkey expelling 3 diplomats

Sept. 7, 2011 at 3:51 PM

ISTANBUL, Turkey, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- Turkey is expelling at least three diplomats from the Israeli Embassy in Ankara, Israeli officials said Wednesday.

But despite the latest sign of tensions between the two countries, CNN reported, a senior Israeli government official said, "Israel does not want to see a further deterioration in the relationship with Turkey."

The official, who asked not to be identified, told the U.S. network, "There have been a number of proposals on the table to prevent a deterioration and unfortunately, they have not been successful, but from our point of view a deterioration in the relationship serves neither side's interests."

The Israeli consulate apparently won't be affected by the move, said Ohad Kaynar of the Israeli consulate in Istanbul.

In response to Israel's refusal to apologize for its raid last year on a Gaza-bound ship in which eight Turks were killed, Turkey also has suspended economic and military ties with Israel.

A U.N. panel investigating the takeover of the aid ship said Israeli soldiers used "excessive and unreasonable" force against its passengers. But it said the Israeli blockade of Gaza was legal.

CNN said some Israeli officials think the rift between the two countries could be healed with time and diplomacy.

But others say it signals a shift in Turkish foreign policy with more emphasis on relations with the Muslim world, the network said.

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