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Turkey Disallows Israeli Participation in NATO Military Exercises

January 31, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Turkey has decided to cancel air force military exercises that were scheduled for next week, Israeli media reports revealed Sunday.

According to sources in the Israeli security ministry, Ankara notified Israel about its decision days before the scheduled manoeuvres were to take place, with the participation of the United States, Italy, and NATO, in addition to Israel and Turkey.

The reason Turkey gave for its decision is that the planes that Israel would have used in the air force exercises were probably the same planes used by Israel in its Operation Cast Lead in Gaza last winter.

Israel previously participated in these military exercises that have taken place annually since 2001 and included simulation of air battles and attacks on land targets as well as testing air defence systems and mid-air refuelling.

The Israeli radio reported that Washington expressed its resentment to Turkey.

Sources believe Ankara might have decided to exclude Israel in fear of harming Turkish-Iranian relations especially before the planned visit of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Tehran.

Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, cancelled a visit to Israel in September after Israel denied his request to visit the Gaza Strip through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing.