State Department: Israel was never invited to the NATO summit

Victoria Nuland, currently spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, April 9, 2008

From Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post:  Tuesday morning I had a post concerning difficulties the State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland had in responding to an objection by Turkey to Israel’s attendance at an upcoming NATO summit. In short, she refused to say whether the U.S. would defend Israel’s participation.

Nuland contacted me late Tuesday afternoon to offer an explanation for her bobbing and weaving with the press. She told me, “had it come up at the briefing again today, I would have clarified that it was never in the plan to invite Israel to the NATO summit, nor have they attended any previous NATO summits. The only NATO partner format that Israel is a member of is the Mediterranean Dialog, which has never met at summit level, and won’t this time either.” So what was Turkey objecting to? . . .

The Times of Israel also reported:

“It is true that Israel wasn’t invited, because Ankara is working hard to prevent NATO from strengthening two partnerships: its Mediterranean partnership because of Israel, and its European Union partnership because of Cyprus,” an Israeli diplomatic official said. He added that Turkey was subject to “scathing criticism” from fellow member states for obstructing the development of NATO’s ties.

“We didn’t plan on attending the summit anyway,” the official said, adding that the list of invitees to NATO summits was a matter to be discussed between the alliance and its member states and that Israel was not going to get involved.

Israel wasn’t being invited because the Turks previously rejected a so-called “individual partner plan” outlining Israel’s participation in the Med Dialogue. Because NATO operates on consensus, Israel is being blocked from engaging with NATO, at least at high level. That is why Israel wasn’t invited. A report from the Atlantic Council makes clear: “Turkey said it will not allow Israel, a member of the Mediterranean Dialogue, a NATO outreach program with seven non-NATO nations, to take part in the alliance’s new ‘Partnership Cooperation Menu (PCM),’ during a NATO meeting in Brussels last week attended by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. Because of Ankara’s veto, Israel will not attend the NATO summit due to take place from May 20 to 21 in Chicago, an important diplomatic summit to be hosted by US President Barack Obama.” In other words, failure to invite Israel is the result of Turkey’s actions and our inability to convince Turkey to cease and desist from its Israel boycott. (photo: Reuters)

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