Page last updated at 09:05 GMT, Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Israel contrite over Turkey ambassador snub

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's deputy foreign minister has said "disrespect... is not my way", in an attempt to defuse a row over his treatment of Turkey's ambassador.

Turkey had demanded an apology after Danny Ayalon summoned its ambassador to rebuke him over a TV series and ensured he was photographed on a lower chair.

Mr Ayalon reaffirmed his protest, but said in future he would behave "in a diplomatically acceptable manner".

The TV series depicts Israeli intelligence agents as baby-snatchers.

"It is not my way to disrespect ambassadors' honour, and in future I will clarify my position in a diplomatically acceptable manner," Mr Ayalon said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Turkey summoned the Israeli ambassador to Ankara to express its "annoyance".

And the Turkish foreign ministry said it expected steps to be taken to compensate its ambassador, Ahmet Oguz Celikkol.

In a statement, the ministry said it awaited "an explanation and apology" for Mr Ayalon's "attitude".

'Repeated provocation'

Footage of Mr Ayalon urging journalists to make clear 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" and "we are not smiling".

In an interview with Israel's Army Radio on Tuesday, Mr Ayalon was unapologetic.

"In terms of the diplomatic tactics available, this was the minimum that was warranted given the repeated provocation by political and other players in Turkey," he said, according to Reuters.

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

The meeting with Mr Celikkol had been called to discuss the fictional television series Valley of the Wolves, popular in Turkey.

It depicts Israeli intelligence operatives kidnapping babies and converting 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.

The row comes ahead of a planned visit by Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak to Turkey on Sunday.

Turkey has long been an ally of Israel, but relations have deteriorated as Ankara has repeatedly criticised Israel for its offensive in Gaza a year ago.

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

Thirteen Israelis died during the violence.

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