JERUSALEM (AP)–Israel’s tourism minister, Stas Mesezhnikov, urged Israelis on Sunday to stop traveling to Turkey on vacation, calling for a travel boycott after Turkey’s National Security Council (MGK) classified the Jewish state as a strategic threat.
The MGK approved changes in its National Security document on Sunday, removing Iran, Syria and Armenia and adding Israel to the list of countries that pose a “major threat” to Turkey.
Mesezhnikov said that ties with Turkey are important to Israel. But he added that it must be boycotted totally as a tourism destination for the national honor.
Relations hit a new low in May after Israeli naval commandos killed nine activists from Turkey on board a flotilla that tried to breach Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Israeli travel agents have reported a large drop-off in once-popular travel to Turkey. A report published in August showed the number of Israelis traveling to Turkey in July was down 90%, reaching a measly 4,500 vacationers – compared to 43,000 in July 2009, and 78,000 in July 2008.
Earlier this month, Turkish media reported that Turkey would not send a delegation to the biannual Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) tourism conference, to be held in Jerusalem.
According to the Turkish Hurriyet Daily, the decision marked the country’s first official boycott of Israel on an international level since the Mavi Marmara raid.