Ayalon threatens to expel ambassadors

Deputy FM: Variety of responses will be considered against any nation whose actions hurt Israel.

January 17, 2010 12:34
2 minute read.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who triggered a diplomatic crisis with Turkey last week over his undiplomatic treatment of Turkish ambassador Oguz Celikkol, said Israel might consider expelling the envoy if Turkish TV continued to demonize Israel.

Asked in a Channel 2 interview Saturday what Israel would do if another installment were shown of the Valley of the Wolves television show that depicted Israeli agents kidnapping children and shooting old men, Ayalon replied, "Maybe we would expel their ambassador."

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Asked again later by the anchor whether he was threatening to expel the Turkish ambassador, Ayalon said that a variety of responses would be considered against any nation whose actions hurt Israel, including the expulsion of an ambassador.

"We will take counsel, assess the situation and decide what to do," Ayalon said if the show was aired again with similar scenes.

"It is possible that we would summon the ambassador, possible that we would expel the ambassador. We are not talking only about Turkey. Any country that harms Israel, we will weigh expelling their ambassador as well. All the options are open."

"If a country feels that it can kick us without a price, then we lose," Ayalon said.

"Turkey is important to us, and we are also important to Turkey."

During the interview on Channel 2, Ayalon explained that his intention in calling in Celikkol was to send a sharp message to Turkey, but not to humiliate him.

"What was planned was not to provide refreshments or shake hands, legitimate messages that are done all the time," he said. "When I entered the room, and saw the situation, I saw that he was [seated] a little lower. I joked a little about that, but it was not intended to get out. I never thought this was recorded, and even if it was recorded, I didn't think it would be broadcast."

Ayalon was recorded telling the cameramen to film Celikkol sitting on the lower sofa, and to note that they did not shake hands, there were no refreshments served, and only the Israeli flag was on the table. He said the intention was for pictures to be released without sound.

"The picture was intended for the Turks who for a year and half did not hear any harsh words [from Israel for their criticism]," Ayalon said.

"The idea was to raise the bar a bit, which the picture would do. If it would have gone as planned, it would have been ok," he said.

"The set up was excellent, everything else is a mishap that I take responsibility for."

Ayalon said that the letter of apology he sent out on Wednesday evening was sent after Israel received assurances that Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is travelling to Ankara on Sunday, would be welcomed.

"The relations with Turkey will return to normal," he said "That is also what they promised. Now we have to see if they will lower [the tone of] their harsh criticism.

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