(AP) ANKARA, Turkey - Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador and said Friday it is cutting military ties with Jerusalem over last year's raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that killed nine people.
Turkey's move came before the anticipated publication Friday of a U.N. report on violence aboard a Gaza-bound protest flotilla. The fatalities included eight Turkish nationals and one Turkish-American activist.
The New York Times published what it said were excerpts from the report, which said Israel's blockade of Gaza is a "legitimate security measure." But the report also said Israel's use of force against the flotilla was "excessive and unreasonable," according to the newspaper.
An Israeli official said the report showed Israel's actions were in keeping with international law. The official said Israel hoped the two countries could now "return to the cooperation that was a cornerstone of regional stability." He spoke on condition of anonymity because the report had yet to be officially released. He said Israel expected it to be made public by the U.N. later Friday.
Turkey has made an Israeli apology a condition of improving diplomatic ties. Israeli officials say the report does not demand an Israeli apology, establishing instead that Israel should express regret and pay reparations.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the government was downgrading diplomatic ties with Israel to the level of second secretary and that the ambassador and other high-level diplomats would leave the capital Ankara by Wednesday.
He said all military agreements signed between the former allies were also being suspended.
"The time has come for Israel to pay for its stance that sees it above international laws and disregards human conscience," Davutoglu said. "The first and foremost results is that Israel is going to be devoid of Turkey's friendship."
Davutoglu said the report "displayed the violence committed by the Israeli soldiers," but also criticized it for describing Israel's naval blockade as a legitimate security measure and in line with international law.
Turkey does not recognize the Israel's embargo on Gaza," Davutoglu said, adding that Turkey would take steps to have the International Court of Justice and the United Nations to look into its legality.
Relations between Turkey and Israel, once close, have soured in recent years as Turkey has tilted away from the West. They deteriorated sharply after the flotilla bloodshed.
Turkey cuts Israel ties over flotilla raid - CBS News