Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu Photo by Reuters
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Turkey’s Foreign Ministry denied Tuesday claims of ongoing relations with Israel in the field of defense and energy, according to a Hurriyet Daily News report, despite strains in the countries’ ties.

“We observe that there are various unfounded allegations both in the media and in some quarters, regarding Turkey’s relations with Israel in a period that Turkey engages in intensive efforts to stop Israel’s attacks against Gaza without delay and to establish a lasting cease-fire.” Hurriyet quoted a Foreign Ministry statement as saying. “In this context, some speculative allegations are being raised, asserting that Turkey is cooperating with Israel in the fields of defense industry and energy.”

“Turkey downgraded its diplomatic relations with Israel to the minimum level and suspended all military ties between the two countries following the attack carried out by Israel in the international waters against a humanitarian aid convoy by nongovernmental organizations to Gaza on May 31, 2010, in which 10 Turkish civilians lost their lives,” the statement reportedly added. “No official agreement has been concluded in these fields, including the defense industry, between Turkey and Israel during the said period.”

According to the report, the statement also denied any cooperation between the countries in the energy sector, and said that Energy Minister Taner Yıldız had responded to claims to that effect in a public statement on Monday.

Ties between Israel and Turkey have frayed amid the escalation in fighting between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized Israeli leaders on numerous occasions, including a comment made Friday that “Israel is currently waging terror and genocide.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry subsequently warned Israelis not to travel to Turkey. “In view of public sentiment in Turkey during Operation Protective Edge, we emphasize our recommendation not to travel to Turkey for non-essential reasons and, if there, to take precautionary measures,” said the advisory, adding that “we suggest staying away from demonstrations or other anti-Israel activities.”

In addition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lambasted Erdogan’s “anti-Semitic” remarks. In a phone conversation with U.S. Secreatry of State, Netanyahu said his Turkish counterpart’s comments, accusing Israel of massacring Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and carrying out war crimes worse than those if Hitler and the Nazis, were anti-Semitic and desecrated the memory of the Holocaust.

The crisis in relations between Israel and Turkey began during the operation Cast Lead in Gaza in December 2008. They deteriorated sharply after Israeli naval commandos killed nine Turkish activists during a raid on a flotilla of ships trying to breach the blockade on the Gaza Strip in May, 2010.

The two countries came close to signing a reconciliation agreement this year, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ultimately refused to endorse the accord.