Ankara summons Israeli envoy for talks

Deputy FM refuses to apologize for demeaning meeting with Turkish envoy over anti-Israel show.

By JPOST.COM STAFF,
January 12, 2010 14:47
2 minute read.
Ankara summons Israeli envoy for talks

Lieberman makes point 224 88 aj. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi [file])

 
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Amid yet more diplomatic tensions, Israeli Ambassador to Turkey Gabby Levy was called in for a clarification meeting in Ankara on Tuesday afternoon.

It comes a day after Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon summoned Turkish Ambassador Oguz Celikkol to the Knesset to express outrage over a new Turkish television show that depicts Mossad agents as baby-snatchers, and in a break from the diplomatic norm, invited the press for a photo-op, during which he was seen telling the cameramen to film him and his aide sitting on tall chairs, and the Turkish envoy on a lower chair, with the Israeli flag in the middle.

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The ambassador was also filmed waiting in a corridor for the meeting to begin, and when it did, he was offered nothing to drink or eat.

An associate of Celikkol expressed his outrage at Ayalon's conduct, telling Army Radio that "in 35 years as a diplomat, I've never come across such shameful behavior."

Ayalon refused to apologize, saying Tuesday morning that he "didn't want to humiliate him, but merely to convey a message."

Ayalon called Celikkol for the meeting even before Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had issued yet more scathing criticism of Israel, and set the meeting at the Knesset, and not in the Foreign Ministry as is generally the case in these types of situations.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Binyamin Ben-Eliezer on Tuesday expressed his outrage over the "humiliation" of the envoy, which he perceived as "picking a fight with a country with 72 million Muslims.

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Former Israeli ambassador to Turkey Alon Liel told the station that "a new sort of diplomacy" had been invented, and that Lieberman had "made up a new way of reprimanding."

"This time, they made him sit on a low chair, next time maybe they'll make him crawl, and who knows, maybe the time after that they'll beat him up at the entrance," he said.

Ayalon himself openly admitted that he and Foreign Minister Avidgor Lieberman had planned the details of the encounter, but told the radio station that such behavior was "standard diplomatic conduct," and offered no apology.

"I won't apologize. It's the Turks who should - for what [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan said and for the television series," Ayalon said. "We are merely setting boundaries."

Celikkol, according to Turkish sources, did not even know beforehand the reason for the meeting. One official said that the whole episode was an "act of humiliation."

After the meeting, Ayalon said he told Celikkol that the television show, "against the backdrop of the very, very anti-Israeli rhetoric by the most senior officials in Turkey, not only harm relations, but also endanger the Jewish community in Turkey, the Israeli diplomats there, to say nothing of the Israeli tourists who visit there."

According to Ayalon's office, he told Celikkol the show was "intolerable."

Celikkol said he would pass on Israel's protests to Ankara.

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