After a chain of events that have called into question the quality of relations between Ankara and Jerusalem, an official letter received by Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin Tuesday called into question the very phrase, as a top Turkish official discretely denied the legitimacy of the Israeli capital.
The letter, written by Rivlin's Turkish counterpart, Mehmet Ali Sahin, speaker-elect of the Turkish parliament, seemed to convey all the right messages. "We will continue to cultivate friendly relations and co-operation," wrote Sahin in the missive, composed in Turkish. Rivlin's office said that they were actually quite "satisfied" by the contents of the body of the letter and its friendly message. Sahin was responding to a letter of congratulations sent by Rivlin after Sahin's election.
"I thank you for your generous congratulatory letter that you sent in your name and in the name of the Knesset of Israel following my election to the position," Sahin wrote. "In contrast to the difficult mood that has recently circulated between the two countries, I want to emphasize that in the course of my tenure as speaker, efforts will continue to ensure that the friendly relationships and cooperation between Turkey's Great National Assembly and the Israeli parliament will increase and will develop in the future. I wish you luck in your position and relay to you my genuine greetings to the honorable members of the Israeli parliament."
But Rivlin received an entirely different message when he read further down the page, at the formal address listed below Sahin's signature. The address read "Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin, Speaker of the Israeli Parliament, Tel Aviv."
Rivlin interpreted the apparent error as a "diplomatic barb," and his office quickly responded to the "mistake."
"Our respect for Jerusalem is great, and as the locus of the Knesset building, even more so. And there is no doubt that even in Ankara, they understand that perfectly well," the speaker's office replied in an official response.
On Sunday, Turkish-Israeli relations took yet another turn for the worse when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of committing much greater crimes during Operation Cast Lead than Sudan had committed in Darfur.
Erdogan said it would be easier to discuss state killings of civilians with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir than with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
"I cannot discuss this with Netanyahu but I can easily discuss such issues with Omar al-Bashir. I can say to his face: What you are doing is wrong," Erdogan said, and later went on to say that no Muslim or Muslim state could possibly commit genocide.
Jerusalem Post staff and AP contributed to this report.