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Israel summons Turkish diplomat over press coverage of envoy's expulsion

Turkish press were invited to cover the departure of Israeli Ambassador Eitan Naeh from an Istanbul airport
Screenshot
Incident is the latest episode in an escalating diplomatic stand-off between Israel and Turkey

Israel summoned the top Turkish representative in the country to the foreign ministry on Tuesday for reprimand after what it called the "intolerable" treatment of Israel’s ambassador at an Istanbul airport following his expulsion by Ankara.

The Turkish interim charge d’affaires in Tel Aviv attended a hearing at 1:00 p.m. local time, after Turkish media were invited to cover the departure of Israeli Ambassador Eitan Naeh, with airport authorities subjecting him to what the foreign ministry called a harsh security check in front of invited Turkish TV outlets.

The invitation to the press was an unusual move, which Israel's foreign ministry described as "scandalous" and a "violation of diplomatic code."

In retaliation, the Israeli press was invited to cover the arrival of the Turkish charges d’affaires to his hearing at the foreign ministry in Jerusalem.


The Israeli foreign ministry said in a statement it had expressed to the charge d'affairs its "strong protest against the scandalous Turkish conduct, adding that Israel would not be able to tolerate such behavior to its representatives."

"This behavior is a blatant violation of the diplomatic code of conduct between countries. Our position was also made clear directly to the authorities in Ankara," the statement added.

The incident was the latest episode in a diplomatic stand-off between Israel and Turkey which has seen tit-for-tat expulsions of envoys by both countries, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan exchanged bitter accusations over the Israeli army's killing of dozens of Palestinians in clashes along the Gaza border on Monday.

Hours after Naeh was summoned to the Turkish foreign ministry and told to "return to his country for a period of time", Israel's consul general in Istanbul Yossi Levi Safri was similarly ordered to leave the country.

Naeh had only been in his post since December 2016 after a reconciliation deal earlier that year ended a dispute over the May 2010 deadly storming of a Turkish ship by Israeli commandos that saw relations downgraded for more than half a decade.

AFP, Avishag Shar Yeshuv

Israel responded by ordering the Turkish consul in Jerusalem, Hüsnü Gürcan Türkoğlu -- who is responsible for Turkey’s relations with the Palestinians -- to leave for an unspecified period of time.

Turkey had already called back its ambassador to Tel Aviv -- as well as its envoy to Washington -- for consultations over the killing of 60 Palestinians by Israeli forces on Monday.

Ankara has reacted with fury to the killings, which came on the same day as the US formally moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Erdogan, currently on a visit to Britain, had on Monday stepped up his rhetoric, accusing Israel of "state terror" and "genocide" over the killings.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hit back at Erdogan, with a tweeted jibe in Hebrew that as a leading supporter of Palestinian Islamist group Hamas "there's no doubt he's an expert on terror and slaughter".

Responding on Twitter in English, Erdogan said: "Netanyahu is the PM of an apartheid state that has occupied a defenseless people's lands for 60+ yrs in violation of UN resolutions."

"He has the blood of Palestinians on his hands and can't cover up crimes by attacking Turkey," he added.

ILYAS AKENGIN (AFP)

In a later tweet titled "Reminder to Netanyahu", Erdogan denied that Hamas is a terror group, saying it is a "resistance movement that defends the Palestinian homeland against an occupying power".

While Turkey under Erdogan has never completely severed ties with Israel, the Turkish strongman has also never shied away from the strongest criticism viewing himself as the champion of the Palestinian cause.

Turkey began observing three days of national mourning on Tuesday declared by Erdogan for the Palestinian dead, with flags flying at half-mast and cultural events cancelled.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has urged Islamic countries to review their ties with Israel and said Ankara was calling an extraordinary summit of the world's main pan-Islamic body, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in Istanbul on Friday.

Hundreds of people also held protests for a second day in Istanbul and Ankara. The demonstrations went peacefully, although one man was arrested in Ankara for throwing eggs and stones at the residence of the Israeli ambassador.

Another large demonstration is set to take place in Istanbul following the OIC summit.

Comments

(1)

restore ties that is, but if you take their toes don't return them:)

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