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Turkey lifts veto on NATO cooperation with Israel
By AFP - Dec 23,2012 - Last updated at Dec 23,2012
ISTANBUL — NATO member Turkey has agreed to lift its veto on non-military cooperation between the alliance and Israel which it imposed over a deadly raid on a Turkish aid ship to Gaza in 2010, a diplomat said Sunday.
Ankara took the retaliatory measure after the Israeli army stormed the ship carrying humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip while it was in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea, leaving nine Turks dead.
The decision to renew NATO links came at a December 4 meeting in Brussels of the 28-member alliance on a proposal by its Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the diplomat said.
In return, several NATO allies of Israel agreed to drop a veto against cooperating with Turkey-friendly countries notably in the Arab world.
Turkey will agree to Israeli involvement in certain NATO activities but will maintain its ban on joint military manoeuvres, and Ankara reserves the right to bar activities with Israel on its own soil.
The agreement comes after NATO agreed early this month to deploy Patriot anti-aircraft missiles along the Turkish border with Syria.
Turkey has twice denied Israeli military planes access to its airspace in retaliation for the deadly raid on Gaza-bound aid ships, a diplomat said Tuesday, in a sign of the deepening rift between the one-time allies.
Turkey barred an Israeli military plane from using its airspace after last month's raid on Gaza-bound aid ships killed nine activists, Agence France-Presse quoted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying Monday.
Turkey has blocked Israel's attendance at a May NATO summit over its refusal to apologise for the deaths of nine Turks during a 2010 assault on a protest flotilla bound for Gaza, a Turkish official said Monday.
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