Arab League Urges Turkey to Rethink Israel Military Ties

CAIRO (Reuters)–Senior Arab officials criticized Turkey’s military ties with Israel as a threat to Arab interests during an Arab League meeting on Wednesday.

Military cooperation between the Jewish state and its new-found friend dominated the talks on the first day of the foreign ministers’ meeting–but a senior diplomat said a formal condemnation of Turkey at the two-day meeting was unlikely.

"We’re trying to move away from condemning Turkey–we are finding channels to talk to it about the ties," said the diplomat who took part in the talks.

Arab League Secretary-General Esmat Abdel-Meguid told the opening session on Wednesday:

"The development of military ties with Turkey exposes Arab national interests to real danger and brings the region back to the policy of axes and alliances."

Syria–current head of the league’s rotating chairmanship–said the Israel-Turkey military ties spelt danger for the Arab world.

"We call upon Turkey to reconsider its ties with Israel," Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara told the meeting.

"Israel’s greed is not a surprise for Arabs. But the entry of Turkey into military cooperation with Israel–without regard for Arab and Moslem feelings nor for its vital interests with Arabs–should ring warning bells for all Arabs," he said.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred earlier this month to its burgeoning friendship with Turkey as the main axis of a "regional security arrangement" in the Middle East.

Turkey began developing military ties with Israel in 1996 when the two countries signed a defense cooperation accord.

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