Israel diplomats at odds over Turkish ties following envoy row
Israel's embassy in Ankara sent an angry message to Jerusalem on Monday, saying a report on Israeli-Turkish ties prepared by the Foreign Ministry's Center for Political Research was "divorced from reality", Haaretz reported
The classified report, which was distributed to cabinet members and Israeli diplomats abroad, was disclosed Tuesday in Haaretz. It termed Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon's humiliation of the Turkish ambassador earlier this month a success, saying that Turkey had understood Israel's "hint" - namely, that Jerusalem thought Turkish hostility toward Israel had crossed a red line. The report also accused Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of inciting anti-Semitism.
One reason why the report was greeted with such shock at the Israeli embassy in Turkey was that its authors, some of whom had worked at the Ankara embassy in the past, did not consult the current embassy staff in Ankara. Embassy personnel were also miffed that the report was disseminated so widely and with a such low security classification, at a time when Israel's relations with Turkey are already badly strained.
The embassy said the ministry report contained serious accusations against Turkey that are simply at variance with the facts. For example, it disagreed with the allegation that Erdogan is inciting anti-Semitism, explaining that the concept of anti-Semitism in Turkey is different than it is in Israel or Europe. The Turkish establishment, the embassy said in a telegram, is not anti-Semitic, and terms used in Erdogan's speeches that were viewed as anti-Semitic here were seen as just the opposite by the Turks. The embassy also said that in the past - when Israel's approach to the peace process was more to his liking - Erdogan maintained close ties with Israel.
Tuesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a special statement to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, in which it condemned the Holocaust as "the most grave and unprecedented crime against humanity throughout history." Sources at the Israeli Foreign Ministry said the Turkish statement was exceptional, as similar statements had not been issued in prior years.
However, the Turkish statement did not make specific reference to the Jews as victims of the Holocaust, referring instead merely to "the persons targeted by the Nazi regime."