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Friday Headlines

Courtesy of ISN News

The ongoing diplomatic row between Turkey and Israel has reached new heights with Israel canceling all El Al flights to Istanbul.

The latest difficulty arose after security chiefs at Istanbul airport decided to change their procedures.

Until Thursday, Israeli security officers worked alongside their Turkish counterparts ahead of El Al departures and arrivals.

However, according to reports from the airport, the Israelis will no longer be allowed to participate in the checking process.

As soon as the news reached Jerusalem, Israel’s internal security service, its equivalent of the FBI, ruled no Israeli planes may fly to Istanbul.

On Friday Israeli diplomats and transport officials were trying to persuade the Turkish government to reverse the new policy.

This latest dispute follows several weeks of public criticisms by top Turkish politicians of Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians.

At one point Istanbul recalled its ambassador to Israel for consultations.

The Media Line analysts say Turkey is currently in a very difficult position diplomatically.

As the most populous country on the European continent it is currently seeking entry to the European Union, but at the same time it is trying to improve relations with the Arab world.

Its first level of integration with the Arabs is observer status at the Arab League, however, Istanbul clearly wants a greater role.

Turkey is a secular state whose population is predominantly Muslim.

The situation is further exacerbated by the recent wave of terror attacks in Istanbul and Ankara.

The latest bombings took place on Thursday, with at least four people being killed and 19 injured.

NATO leaders including U.S. President George W. Bush are arriving in Ankara over the weekend ahead of a major conference next week.