Israel mulls cutting arms sales to Turkey

Israeli defense officials say the Jewish state is reviewing the sale of advanced weapons systems to longtime ally Turkey after Ankara’s Islamic government, its eyes on the Muslim world, canceled joint military exercises scheduled for later this month.

A decision to cut off military sales to Turkey would be a major blow to Israel’s defense industry. It is the most sophisticated in the region but depends on exports to keep production lines running to equip Israel’s armed forces.

The growing strains between the two countries, stemming largely from Ankara’s increasing criticism of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, have imperiled a strategic alliance forged in 1996 that cemented military and intelligence ties.

Despite the mounting tension, the two countries have continued to do business over the last year even as Turkey has sought to project itself as a regional power and a defender of the Muslim world.

Israel is one of Turkey’s main military suppliers and over the years has refurbished a wide range of Turkish equipment, and sold Ankara all manner of electronic equipment in which Israel’s defense industry specializes.

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