Israel: No new Turkish envoy without reciprocation

"Upgrading ties needs to be bilateral," Foreign Ministry official says; Turkish press had reported that new envoy had been chosen.

Erdogan and Netanyahu split screen 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Erdogan and Netanyahu split screen 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel will not name a new ambassador to Ankara until the Turks also indicate that they are resending an envoy to Tel Aviv, Foreign Ministry officials said Tuesday.
The officials were responding to a story in Turkey’s Today’s Zaman saying that Israel has decided to name Rafi Schutz, the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director-general for Europe, as its next envoy, even though there is no indication that the countries plan to exchanging ambassadors any time soon.
One ministry official said that a meeting of the ministry’s appointment committee is scheduled for Thursday, and that Turkey is not on the agenda.
“We are not there yet,” the official said.
Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador in 2011, and recalled its envoy shortly after the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010.
In March, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued an apology to Turkey for operational errors that may have happened on the Mavi Marmara flotilla in 2010, leading to the death of nine Turks trying to break the blockade of Gaza. The two countries were expected to exchange envoys a few months later. However, while talks to normalize relations began after the apology, they have been frozen since the summer.
Ministry officials categorically dismissed the claim, expressed by analysts cited in the Today’s Zaman article, that Israel was trying to “corner Turkey by announcing a name to be appointed to Ankara – a move that aims to present Turkey as the party which has no will to normalize relations.”
“This is complete nonsense,” the official said.
“There is no such thing as forcing an upgrade of ties. Downgrading relations can be done unilaterally, but upgrading the ties – by definition – is something that needs to be bilateral.”
The report of Schutz’s supposed appointment followed a Foreign Ministry-sponsored visit here at the end of last month by eight Turkish journalists who, according to one official, misconstrued what was said at one of the meetings.