Page last updated at 08:14 GMT, Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Turkey demands apology from Israel over envoy 'slight'

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]

Turkey has demanded that Israel apologise over what it called the "discourteous" way its ambassador was treated during a diplomatic meeting.

Israel summoned Turkey's ambassador to rebuke him over a TV series but ensured he was photographed on a lower chair.

In response, Turkey has summoned the Israeli ambassador to Ankara to express its "annoyance".

The foreign ministry has also insisted it expects steps to be taken to compensate its envoy.

In a statement, the ministry said it awaited "an explanation and apology" for the "attitude" of Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.

"We invite the Israeli foreign ministry to respect the rules of diplomatic courtesy," the statement said.

The television series that sparked the diplomatic row depicts Israeli intelligence agents as baby-snatchers.

'Repeated provocation'

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". The Turkish flag had been removed from the table, leaving only the Israeli one.

In an interview with Israel's Army Radio, 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 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.

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 was aimed at ending rocket fire by Hamas.

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People's Daily Online Turkey confirms Israeli official apology for snubbing ambassador - 6 hrs ago
Arab News Israel apologizes to Turkey over insult - 10 hrs ago
The Scotsman Israel accused of belittling Turkish envoy - 11 hrs ago
Sky News Israel's Apology To Turkey After Sofa Insult - 16 hrs ago
New Zealand Herald Diplomatic stand-off over TV drama - 19 hrs ago

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