Turkey's Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, on Friday said he had cancelled a plan to attend the Munich security conference in protest at the inclusion of Israeli representatives in a session on the Middle East.
"I was going to participate in the conference but we decided not to after they included the Israeli representatives in the Middle East session," Cavusoglu told the Anatolia news agency from Berlin.
He emphasized that the decision should not be seen as a move against Germany, stressing, "Our relationship with Germany is not limited with the Munich conference.”
Cavusoglu’s announcement is the latest step in the deterioration in Israel-Turkey relations, which have steadily deteriorated over the past several years and reached their lowest point following the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident.
The Marmara ship, which claimed to be providing "humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza," defied orders to turn around and dock at the Ashdod port. After it ignored repeated warnings to change course, the IDF boarded the vessel – only to be attacked by Islamist extremists on board.
The soldiers had no choice but to open fire, resulting in the deaths of nine of the IHH members on board. After an investigation, Israeli authorities discovered the vessel to be carrying no humanitarian aid – in fact, no aid supplies at all – whatsoever.
When Israel refused Turkey’s demand that it apologize for the incident and compensate the victims’ families, Turkey cut ties with the Jewish state.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu later apologized to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then Prime Minister who has since been elected President, over the Marmara incident at the urging of the United States, and the sides were supposed to enter talks on compensation for the victims, but those seem to have stalled.
Erdogan, however, has never stopped his verbal attacks against Israel. He recently blasted Netanyahu for "daring" to attend an anti-terror solidarity march in Paris after the attacks in that city.
Responding to Cavusoglu’s announcement, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Friday evening that Turkey’s latest move is proof that apologizing to it over the Marmara incident was the wrong thing to do.
"The statement proves once again how big a mistake the decision to apologize to Turkey was," Liberman wrote on his Facebook page.
“As long as current leadership headed by Erdogan and his friends controls Turkey, there is no chance for rehabilitation of relations between the two countries since Erdogan's Turkey is a country that only wants to attack and bash Israel, and we must conduct ourselves in accordance with and protect Israel’s interests,” he added.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)