Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Turkish envoy: I may leave
Sharon Roffe-Ofir
Published: 01.12.10
Israel News

Following diplomatic incident, Ambassador Celikkol tells MK El-Sana he is scheduled to return to Ankara for consultations, may not come back to Israel. Arab lawmaker: Deputy FM Ayalon's conduct 'disgraceful'
Entire article: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3833531,00.html

Israel's FM Lieberman just read Turkey's Ambassador the RIOT ACT!

Israel to Turkey: We can fight back

Jan 12, 2010


The government removed the gloves on Monday in response to provocative actions and comments coming from Ankara, with the Foreign Ministry slamming Turkey as the last country that can preach morality, and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon calling in Turkey's envoy for a dressing down in front of the cameras.

"Israel's message to Turkey is clear," one diplomatic official said. "If you want a fight, we'll fight."

"The Foreign Ministry condemns Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's unbridled tongue-lashing," the ministry said in a statement.

"Israel has the full right to defend its citizens from terror and missile attacks from Hamas and Hizbullah. Turkey is the last country that can preach morality to Israel and the IDF."

The uncharacteristically sharp statement was prompted by a press conference Erdogan held on Monday with visiting Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, during which he accused Israel of threatening peace in the region and using disproportionate force against Palestinians.

Erdogan, who, according to one Israeli official, has made lashing out at Israel his "hobby," urged Israel to stop violating Lebanon's airspace and territorial waters. He also called on the UN Security Council to put the same pressure on Israel regarding nuclear arms as it does on Iran.

"We can never remain silent in the face of Israel's attitude... It has disproportionate power and it is using that at will while refusing to abide by UN resolutions. We can never accept this picture," Erdogan said. "These steps threaten global peace.

"Those who are warning Iran over nuclear weapons are not making the same warnings to Israel," Erdogan said. "Five permanent members of the Security Council must be just. Israel has not denied the existence of its nuclear arsenal; on the contrary it has admitted it."

He also criticized Israel for an air strike in Gaza on Sunday that was prompted by missile and mortar attacks from the Strip.

"What is your excuse this time?" he asked.

Erdogan then used the platform to accuse Israel of using white phosphorus shells in its offensive against Hamas in Gaza last winter.

"No one can claim that phosphorus shells are not weapons of mass destruction," he said.

In response, the Foreign Ministry said that "Israel shows respect to Turkey and is interested in a continuation of normal relations between the countries, but we expect reciprocity and a similar approach from the Turkish side."

According to Israeli officials, the decision to issue the statement, and the summoning of the Turkish envoy to Ayalon to hear Israel's protest over the latest anti-Israeli show on Turkish television, came from Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

"When it comes to human rights and the treatment of minorities, the Turks don't exactly have a sterling record," one government official said. "Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."

The official pointed out that Lieberman recently told Israel's diplomats serving abroad that they should not be apologetic or attempt to ingratiate themselves with their host countries to find favor in their eyes. The foreign minister is simply now practicing what he preached, the official said.

Ayalon summoned Turkish Ambassador Oguz Celikkol to the Knesset on Monday to express outrage over a new Turkish television show that depicts Mossad agents as baby-snatchers. He called Celikkol for the meeting before Erdogan made his controversial comments.

Ayalon set the meeting at the Knesset, and not in the Foreign Ministry as is generally the case in these types of situations.

In another break from the diplomatic norm, he invited the press for a photo-op, during which he told 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.

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."

Ayalon, after the meeting, said he told Celikkol that the television show, "against the background 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.

Furor over this show follows fast on the heels of another show aired in Turkey in October that depicted IDF soldiers as child-killers. That show was toned down after the furor caused in Israel by the first episode.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, meanwhile, is scheduled to travel to Turkey on Sunday for meetings with the Turkish foreign and defense ministers, meetings that some diplomatic officials in Israel were skeptical would take place under the circumstances.

A spokesman for Lieberman dismissed as "lies" a report that Israel's actions regarding Turkey on Monday were motivated by a desire to torpedo Barak's visit.

Lieberman, the official, did not "invent Erdogan's statements or the television show."

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