Turkish FM pulls out of Germany event over Israeli presence

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu cancelled his attendance at a security conference in Munich over the presence of Israeli representatives there.

During an interview Friday with the Anatolia news agency, Cavusoglu said he would not be attending.

“I was going to participate in the conference but we decided not to after they included the Israeli representatives in the Middle East session,” he said.

Relations between Israel and Turkey have deteriorated dramatically under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, especially after the slaying of nine people in a raid by Israeli naval commando troops on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship that tried to break the siege on Gaza in 2010.

Erdogan last month criticized Netanyahu for attending a march in Paris in which dozens of world leaders expressed their solidarity with France and outrage at the slaying of 17 in the Charlie Hebdo massacre and in two subsequent attacks, including on a kosher supermarket near Paris. Erdogan said Netanyahu’s presence there was inappropriate because he was leading “state terrorism” against the Palestinians.

“I also hardly understand how [Netanyahu] dared to go there. For once, you give an account for the children, women you massacred,” Erdogan told a joint press conference in Ankara alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Before Erdogan’s rise to power more than eight years ago, Turkey was among Israel’s closest allies in the region. The two countries still have diplomatic relations.