Israel Halts Flights to Antalya Over Ban on Armed Security Personnel

Five Antalya hotels offer special deals to Israelis to entice them back to Turkey following diplomatic spat.

Security officials have instructed Israeli airlines not to fly to the Turkish resort city of Antalya because local authorities were no longer allowing armed Israeli security personnel to arrive at its airport.

The airlines have been instructed to halt all services to Antalya until the matter is sorted out.

Israeli charter airlines had already reduced the number of flights to Antalya as a result of the worsening financial crisis and the Turkish government's strong disapproval of Israel's operation in the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, Antalya hotels have been offering enticing deals to Israeli tourists in an effort to bring them back to Turkey. At least five top hotels advertised a free weekend for Israelis "in order to display Turkish hospitality".

The five hotels - Titanic, Topkapi, Limak Limra, Royal Wings and Kremlin - have offered Israeli tourists all-inclusive weekend accommodations for just the price of a flight - $199 a person, including airport taxes and security.

Israeli tourism to Turkey took a nosedive after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last Thursday stormed off the stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos following a verbal spat with President Shimon Peres over last month's fighting in Gaza.

Israeli tourism officials have also reported massive cancelations of Turkish vacations booked for the Passover holiday period and for the summer.

Earlier Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government remains committed to mediating a peace deal between Israel and Palestinians despite an angry public exchange last week with Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Erdogan also said UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon had phoned him on Monday to ask him to continue Turkey's role as a Middle East mediator