BRUSSELS (The Blaze/AP) -- NATO has announced that Israel will not be invited to its May 20-21 summit in Chicago, but denied that alliance member Turkey blocked Israel's participation.
Instead, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Friday, the reason is Israel does not participate in NATO's main military missions.
News reports have claimed that Turkey blocked Israel's participation because of the raid in 2010 by Israeli troops on aid ships heading to Gaza during which eight Turks and a Turkish-American died. For example, Russia Today cited a Turkish official in a Turkish newspaper saying Israel had to apologized first for what has become known as the Gaza Flotilla event:
The objection to Israel’s presence at the event, which will take place in Chicago on May 20-21, was voiced by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu during the alliance’s meeting in Brussels last week, reports Turkish daily newspaper Hürriyet.
“There will be no Israeli presence at the NATO meeting unless they issue a formal apology and pay compensation for the Turkish citizens their commandos killed in international waters,” a senior Turkish official told the newspaper.
The unnamed official said other NATO members were pressing Turkey to revoke the veto, but Ankara refused to acquiesce. He called on Israel’s supporters in the conflict to convince Israel to do as Turkey wishes.
The blocking is the latest in a string of Turkish moves against Israeli cooperation with NATO. Earlier it stopped Israel from opening an office at the NATO headquarters and blocked its participation in the Mediterranean Dialogue group.
Israelie news outlet Haaretz seems to have had a similar story, but it appears to have been pulled.
Instead, Haaretz now has a story quoting a U.S. diplomat saying that Turkey did not block Israel's appearance and that the country was never invited in the first place:
A U.S. official indicated Thursday that Israel’s absence from a NATO conference was not the result of Turkey’s intervention, adding that Israel was never invited to the conference in the first place.
Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon stated at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that there was “misconception” surrounding Israel’s appearance at the Chicago summit.
According to Gordon, Israel is an “important partner of NATO, certainly an important ally of the United States….But the Chicago summit was never going to have a meeting of every single one of those partnerships, simply as a matter of logistics and time.”
NATO has a system of partnerships with dozens of nations across the globe such as the Mediterranean Dialogue, a NATO outreach program with seven friendly nations, including Israel.
Fogh Rasmussen said 13 partners will attend the summit, but only those that have taken part in such NATO military operations.
This story has been updated with new information.