Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the suspension of military and defense ties with Israel on Tuesday. The move follows the publication of a United Nations report on Friday which defended Israel's maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The findings of the UN report on the May 2010 Gaza flotilla incident enraged Turkey, causing the country to expel Israeli diplomats that same day. Since Friday, ties between the two countries have continued to deteriorate.
Though the report backed the legality of Israel's blockade against the Hamas government in Gaza, and its right to enforce it, Erdogan is furious that Israel will not apologize for the deaths of nine Turkish activists killed on the ship Mavi Marmara. The report found that passengers provoked the violence as Israeli commandos landed on the ship.
The Turkish PM called the 2010 Israeli raid in the Mediterranean "an act of state terrorism and savagery" and said the UN report "holds no value for us."
Israel has expressed regret over the loss of life and said it was willing to pay compensation to the families of those killed, but said it will not apologize.
"Israel has always acted like a spoiled child in the face of all UN decisions that concern it," Erdogan told reporters Tuesday. "It assumes that it can continue to act like a spoiled child and will get away with it."
According to a Turkish daily, naval forces will expand their operations in the Mediterranean. "The eastern Mediterranean is no stranger to us. Our ships will be seen more frequently in those waters," Erdogan said.
Erdogan threatened to take further action against Israel, "If the measures [we have] taken so far [against Israel] are part of a Plan B, then there will also be a Plan C. Different steps will be taken depending on the course of developments."
Senior American diplomats, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, are working to "de-escalate" and "defuse" the crisis between Turkey and Israel, the State Department said Tuesday.
"We want to avoid future confrontations and we want both of these strong allies of the United States to get back to a place where they have a good working relationship with each other," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
Turkey received support from the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), an Egyptian political party created by the Muslim Brotherhood. "The Turkish stance expresses that Turkey is a country that respects its people, dignity and interests. It indicates that such acts of aggression by the Israelis will not be tolerated. A fine and deserving example has been illustrated to the Arab and Muslim world. Israel only understands the language of action not words," said FJP Secretary General Saad Katatny.
On Friday, members of Hamas and a member of The Palestinian Islamic Jihad's political bureau praised Turkey's decision to expel the Israeli ambassador. Hamas spokesmen also criticized the UN Palmer Report, calling it biased against Turkey and the Palestinians.