Ministers mull boycott of Turkish event

Attendance at Turkish Na

Turkey's National Day is not until October 29, but the question of whether cabinet members should attend or boycott is becoming an issue in light of the recent nosedive in Turkish-Israeli relations. A spokesman for Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who boycotted a Chinese Embassy event Saturday night to protest Beijing's vote in favor of referring the Goldstone Report to the UN General Assembly, said it was too early to discuss whether Lieberman would attend. Other ministers, however, were less reticent. Information and Diaspora Minister Yuli Edelstein told Ynet that he would not attend Turkey's annual reception, and that it could not be that "they spit in our face and we say it's rain. I don't intend to go, and I hope that my colleagues will act in the same manner." Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz also said that he would not attend the reception. Referring to last week's installment of the television drama on Turkey's state-run TRT1 network depicting IDF soldiers shooting children and lining up Palestinian detainees in front of firing squads, Herschkowitz was quoted saying that "as long as the Turkish government doesn't condemn, and in fact encourages the blood libel against Israel and its soldiers, I do not intend to visit Turkey or its representative office in Israel." One cabinet member with a different opinion is Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who characterized the ties with Turkey as "strategic," and said they should be "preserved at all costs." Ben-Eliezer said he would definitely attend the reception, and that there was no need to "pour oil on the fire. At times like these the job of the leadership is not to speak from the gut, but to think one step ahead." One Foreign Ministry official said that with the exception of national day receptions held by the US and, to a lesser extent, France and Britain, most ministers do not routinely attend such gatherings. By the same token, he said that expressly boycotting a national day event was an accepted way - along with summoning a country's ambassador to the Foreign Ministry - to express dissatisfaction with a particular policy. The official said that so far no directives on the matter have come from either Lieberman or Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.