Avigdor Lieberman
Avigdor Lieberman speaking to reporters in February 2011. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office released on Friday a statement regarding Foreign Minister Avidgor Lieberman's "plan" to take retaliatory steps against Turkey.

According to a report in Yedioth Ahronoth, Lieberman assembled a team in charge of retaliating against Turkey. According to the report, the team recommended to Lieberman that Israel should cooperate with the terrorist organization PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) and even consider supplying it with weapons. Another suggestion was to offer assistance to the Armenians and file UN reports against Turkey for violating human rights of Turkey's minorities.

The recent crisis in Israel-Turkey relations deepened after the UN-commissioned report on the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid was leaked to the New York Times, foiling a last-ditch effort to patch up relations between the two countries. Turkey then announced a series of measures against Israel, beginning with the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and the downgrading of bilateral relations to the level of second secretary.

The PMO's office did not deny or confirm the plan, yet called for restraint with regards to statements concerning Turkey. "Our policy was and remains to prevent a breakdown of relations with Turkey and easing the tensions between the countries," it said in a statement.

The statement also said that "the prime minister and the government discussed different theoretical option in case of an escalation. Yet a decision will be made only and if necessary. Israel has and is acting responsibly and hopes Turkey will act accordingly."

Sources in the foreign ministry who were involved in the discussion told Haaretz that the recommendations made were the opposite of what was published in the media Friday. "There were various ideas," a senior foreign ministry official said, "but the foreign ministry's main recommendation to Lieberman following that discussion was to take steps to prevent a further escalation with Turkey."

On Monday, Turkey informed Israel's top diplomat in Ankara that nearly all senior Israeli embassy personnel must leave the country by Wednesday.