by Andrew Friedman
Israel has closed all diplomatic missions in Turkey as tensions between Ankara and Jerusalem continue to heat up over the ongoing standoff at the Temple Mount.
According to unconfirmed reports, the foreign ministry said that the decision to temporarily shutter the embassy in Ankara and the consulate in Istanbul was undertaken as a precaution, rather than in response to a concrete incident at either mission.
The move follows on the heels of Sunday’s stabbing of a security guard at the Israeli embassy in Amman, Jordan, which ended with the assailant and another person shot dead and the diplomatic staff on lockdown inside the embassy compound
It also comes a year after Israel and Turkey signed a reconciliation deal following a six-year diplomatic standoff. Relations between the countries tanked when nine Turkish nationals were killed as they attacked Israeli navy commandos enforcing Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip in May, 2010. Armed activists on the deck of the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara, one of the ships that participated in the flotilla, attacked the soldiers as they boarded the ship off the Gaza coast; Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador over the incident and recalled the Turkish ambassador from Tel Aviv.
Last year, Israeli officials hoped that the reconciliation deal, which included an Israel payment of $20 million in compensation to the victims (technically, a contribution to an international fund) would temper President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s venom towards the Jewish State and help repair ties.
However, there has been scant evidence of that happening. In May of this year, Erdoğan asserted that “every day Jerusalem is under ‘occupation’” and said that Israeli policy vis-à-vis citizens of the Palestinian Authority is “racist and discriminatory.” Last week he warned that Israel should not “expect the Islamic world to passively accept the humiliation of Muslims caused by the new restrictions at the Noble Sanctuary,” using the Arabic term for the holy site, Haram al-Sharif.