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Terrorism & Security

Turkey's Erdogan heads to Egypt, unnerving an embattled Israel

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's North Africa tour comes at a critical time for Israel, whose diplomats were forced to flee Cairo this weekend after protesters attacked the Israeli embassy.

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On Sept. 8, Erdogan threatened to use Turkish warships to protect another aid flotilla on its way to Gaza and to block Israeli gas exploration in the Mediterranean Sea, The New York Times reports. He also told Al Jazeera in a recent interview that the Israeli raid on the Gaza flotilla was reason enough for war and it was only through Turkey's restraint that it didn't happen.

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"It is a cause for war, but we decided to act in line with Turkey's grandeur and showed patience," said Erdogan, who had been hoping to visit Gaza on his current tour although those plans appeared to be in question.

Combined with the Palestinians' plan to make a bid for statehood recognition at the United Nations later this month, Erdogan's tour, Turkey's severing of trade ties with Israel, and the Egyptian protesters' attack on the Israeli embassy constitute an enormous diplomatic offensive against the Jewish state, according to the Guardian.

Rattled by diplomatic crises on three fronts, Israel fears it is becoming increasingly isolated in the region. The sense of embattlement is heightened by the Palestinians' bid to have their state recognised at the United Nations in the coming weeks, a move supported by a majority of states.

The defence minister, Ehud Barak, said that Israel must face up to its growing isolation. "There is a wide picture forming around us that includes what happened with Turkey, what is happening with Egypt, and what is happening with the Palestinians," Barak told cabinet colleagues. "These events are not in our control but we can certainly affect the way we face them."

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