Turkey cancelled an invitation calling on Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz to attend the Antalya Diplomacy Forum following the recent Israeli attacks on Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem and Gaza, Anadolu Agency reported.
Israel was informed of the cancellation through the Embassy of Turkey in Tel Aviv.
The Antalya Diplomacy Forum is due to be held on 18-20 June and the invitation issued to the Israeli minister was seen as a chance to improve relations between the two countries. Relations between Turkey and Israel deteriorated after the assault by Israeli commandos on the Turkish-registered Mavi Marmara in international waters in May 2010; nine Turkish citizens on board were killed and another died of his wounds later. The ship was sailing towards the Gaza Strip as part of the Freedom Flotilla to break the Israeli-led siege of the Palestinian enclave. At the time, Ankara recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv.
Turkish officials continue to criticise Israel’s targeting of Palestinians, including illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem and the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
On Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned “Israel’s heinous attacks” on Al-Aqsa Mosque. He called on all Muslim countries and the international community to take “effective” steps against Israel. Those who remained silent were “party to the cruelty there”.
Israeli attacks on Palestinian protesters demanding an end to the forced displacement of families from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem to make way for illegal settlers have intensified over the past week. Israeli occupation forces stormedAl-Aqsa Mosque on numerous occasions shot and abused Palestinian worshippers as they prayed the nightly Ramadan prayers. In response, resistance factions fired rockets into Israel.
Israel, which continuously strikes the besieged Gaza Strip throughout the year, then increased its attacks and levelled numerous housing blocks, killing 35 Palestinians including ten children. Five Israelis have also been killed.
Israeli occupation authorities have also closed off Gaza’s fishing waters and blocked all crossing in and out of the Strip, imprisoning its two million population. Some 60,000 people have been affected by the arbitrary sea closures. Previous reports have shown that at least 90 per cent of Gaza’s fishermen live below the poverty line.