New Turkish ambassador arrives amid tension

New Turkish envoy arrive

Turkey's new ambassador, Ahmet Oguz Celikkol, landed here on Tuesday and is expected to present his credentials to President Shimon Peres in a matter of weeks. Celikkol's arrival comes amid sharp tensions in the Turkish-Israeli relationship, and is seen by some as an indication that Turkey does not "want to push the envelope too far." The previous ambassador, Namik Tan, left the country a few weeks ago, and had Turkey wanted to exacerbate the situation with Israel, Ankara could have delayed sending the new ambassador. Tan has gone on to a senior position inside the Turkish Foreign Ministry. Celikkol has formerly served as Turkey's envoy to Damascus and, more recently, Athens - also, from Ankara's perspective, a sensitive post. At the same time, one Israeli official said, Celikkol's arrival should not be seen as the beginning of a new chapter with Turkey, since the ambassador did not spark the current crisis in the ties between Ankara and Jerusalem, nor, the official said, would he be able to solve it. Turkish-controlled Television TRT1, meanwhile, screened on Tuesday night the second episode of its inflammatory drama Ayrilik (Farewell), which depicts Israeli soldiers as bloodthirsty murderers who brutally and at point-blank range execute innocent Palestinians. Because there was no acting Turkish ambassador at the time, Israel sufficed last week with summoning the charge d'affaires at the embassy to protest the program. In the second episode, a group of Palestinian militants can be seen walking past an IDF checkpoint disguised as slouched women, only to lower their head coverings and shoot all the Israeli soldiers in the vicinity while residents of a nearby refugee camp cheer. Later in the episode, a high-ranking IDF officer can be seen beating a Palestinian woman. One Foreign Ministry official dismissed criticism that had Israel not made a big issue out of the program, which earned a very low rating last week in Turkey, very few people would have heard about it or watched it Tuesday night. It was expected to garner a much larger audience because of all the publicity. "Sometimes you have to take a stand," the official said, "because if you don't, then next time, the situation will be worse, and instead of 'just' showing IDF soldiers shooting innocent Palestinians, they will show them herding them into gas chambers. Sometimes you need to react to keep things from gaining legitimacy."