We write in response to recent reports that Turkey has effectively vetoed an invitation to Israel to participate in the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago from May 20-21, 2012.
If these reports are accurate, it is extremely unfortunate that Turkey has implicated all of the NATO member countries in its highly politicized bilateral disagreement with Israel. The U.S., as host country, should assure such bilateral issues do not deprive the participants in the Chicago summit of the benefits of Israeli participation. With its democratic character, advanced military, and strategic location, Israel's cooperation with NATO would be an asset to America's main military alliance. If Turkey has succeeded in foreclosing Israel's participation, we believe this runs counter to U.S. interests, obstructs NATO's agenda, and deprives Israel, the member countries, and invited guests the valuable opportunity to collectively engage important international security challenges.
We note that in addition to the 28 member countries, the summit will be attended by 25 additional guest countries. According to reports, Turkey's objection to Israel's presence at the summit was due solely to the bilateral issues that exist between the two countries, something which did not prove an obstacle for any other country's participation.
The politicized exclusion of Israel from the summit will potentially have real negative security consequences. It will be noted in Tehran at a critical time for international solidarity to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear capability, the most critical of international security issues today.
We respectfully urge you, Madam Secretary, to find a way to enable Israel's participation in the upcoming NATO summit so that Turkey's political dispute with Israel does not detract from the interests of the U.S., NATO, Israel, or the other participants in the Chicago summit.