Israel closes diplomatic missions in Turkey, staff works from home

Israeli diplomatic staff in Turkey are working from home amid rising security threats over the Temple Mount crisis and Erdogan’s hostility towards the Jewish state.

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.

The foreign ministry instructed staff to work from home. According to unconfirmed reports, 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 seals enforcing Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip in May, 2010. Activists on the deck of the 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 had 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, Erdoğan asserted that “every day Jerusalem is under ‘occupation” and said that Israeli policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians is “racist and discriminatory,” and 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.

By: Andrew Friedman/TPS