ISTANBUL (Hurriyet)–Turkey may recall its ambassador to Israel on Thursday unless political tensions between the two governments are resolved by this evening, President Abdullah Gul said, reported Bloomberg Wednesday citing CNBC-e television.
The threat came days after Israel’s deputy foreign minister summoned the Turkish ambassador to complain about a TV show. The ambassador was forced to sit on a low sofa without a handshake and there was no Turkish flag on the table.
Faced with the threat of the recall of the Turkish ambassador to Israel, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon issued a statement late Tuesday night saying he did not intend to show disrespect to the envoy and will be more careful in the future.
“The disputes between Israel and Turkey will be solved in a respectful and mutual manner between the two governments. There was no intention to humiliate the ambassador personally. I apologize for the way Israel’s protest was presented,” he said.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Ayalon said, “My protest against Turkey’s attacks against Israel are still valid, but with that, it is not my custom to insult the honor of ambassadors, and in the future I will clarify my position through acceptable diplomatic means.”
Ayalon’s comments followed Turkey’s demand for an apology, a clarification and “corrective steps” during a meeting between Israel’s envoy in Turkey, Gaby Levy, with Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman currently on an official visit to Cyprus, said his country wants direct dialogue to defuse the diplomatic feud with Turkey, but must be treated with dignity and respect.
Lieberman said on Wednesday that Israel won’t “tolerate any anti-Semitic remarks and incitement against Jews”, but doesn’t want a confrontation with Turkey, reported The Associated Press.
Lieberman said Israel respects Turkey and its people and expects the same in return.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also weighed in publicly Wednesday for the first time since the flap erupted earlier this week, gently chiding the Israeli diplomat for his conduct, reported The Associated Press on Thursday.
Ayalon did not go so far as to explicitly apologize for inviting Israeli TV crews on Monday to film his forcing Celikkol to sit on a lower sofa and denying him a handshake. He also stood behind his decision to summon Celikkol to protest a Turkish TV show depicting Israeli intelligence agents as brutal.
A statement from Netanyahu’s office said the Israeli leader was satisfied with what he characterized as Ayalon’s “apology,” adding that the protest was justified “but should have been expressed in an accepted diplomatic fashion.”
Ayalon, however, faced criticism from his Beiteinu party with officials saying the incident would greatly harm his chances of succeeding party head Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister if Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz decides to indict him on corruption charges before his term as attorney general ends on Jan. 31.
“He is finished politically,” an Israel Beiteinu official said, according to the Jersualem Post.
“This ruins his reputation as a diplomat. It is a stain that cannot be erased. He damaged Lieberman and first and foremost himself. It is too soon to say if it will completely disqualify him, but people in the party will no doubt remember this if a decision would be made on who should be acting foreign minister. This erases the notion that he is the obvious front-runner.”