Page last updated at 16:05 GMT, Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Israel rebukes Turkey over a television series

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon meeting Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Oguz Celikkol, captioned "the height of humiliation" in Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom [Image: Lior Mizrahi/Israel Hayom]
One newspaper captioned the picture "the height of humiliation" [Image: Lior Mizrahi/Israel Hayom]

Israel has issued a stern rebuke to Turkey's ambassador over a television series which depicts Israeli intelligence agents as baby-snatchers.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon was caught on camera urging cameramen to note the ambassador's low seating position at a meeting on the issue.

The incident has been widely seen in Israel as an intentional humiliation.

And Turkey has summoned the Israeli ambassador to protest against the treatment of its ambassador in Israel.

A Turkish diplomat said the Israeli ambassador, Gabby Levy, had been summoned to a meeting the Turkish foreign ministry's under-secretary in Ankara.

"We demanded an explanation and conveyed our annoyance," the Turkish diplomat told the AFP news agency.

Although the Israeli ambassador was reprimanded over the incident, he was not subjected to the indignity of squatting on a low sofa, says the BBC's Jonathan Head in Istanbul.

'Preaching morality'

On Monday, Israel's foreign ministry denounced the Turkish television series and what it called an "unbridled attack" in comments by Turkey's PM.

Footage of Mr Ayalon urging journalists to make clear that the ambassador was seated on a low sofa, while the Israeli officials were in much higher chairs, has been widely broadcast by the Israeli media.

He is also heard pointing out in Hebrew that "there is only one flag here" and "we are not smiling".

One Israeli newspaper marked the height difference on the photo, and captioned it "the height of humiliation".

The meeting with the Turkish ambassador, Ahmet Oguz Celikkol, was called over the fictional television series Valley of the Wolves, popular in Turkey.

It depicts Israeli intelligence operatives running operations to kidnap babies and convert them to Judaism.

Last October Israel complained over another Turkish series, which depicted Israeli soldiers killing Palestinians. In one clip, an Israeli soldier shoots dead a smiling young girl at close range.

Israel has also been angered by heavy criticism on Sunday by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who accused it of using disproportionate force against the Palestinians.

Israel's foreign ministry issued a statement denouncing the television series and Mr Erdogan's comments as "anti-Israel".

"Turkey is the last country that should preach morality to Israel and to the Israel Defense Forces," the statement said.

Turkey has long been an ally of Israel, but relations have deteriorated as Turkey has repeatedly criticised Israel's conduct in its operation in Gaza a year ago.

Rights groups say about 1,400 Palestinians died during the offensive, which Israel said was aimed at ending rocket fire by Hamas.

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