Row with Turkey over Gaza gets ugly

Ankara hu­mil­i­ates Is­raeli diplo­mat, For­eign Min­istry re­sponds in kind

The Jerusalem Post - - FRONT PAGE - • By HERB KEINON

Is­raeli-Turk­ish diplo­matic re­la­tions de­te­ri­o­rated on Wed­nes­day into acts of hu­mil­i­a­tion against each other’s diplo­mats. Turkey started the undiplo­matic duel by invit­ing pho­tog­ra­phers to Is­tan­bul’s air­port to film de­part­ing Is­raeli Am­bas­sador Ei­tan Naeh un­dergo an in­tense se­cu­rity check be­fore board­ing the plane back to Is­rael.

Jerusalem re­sponded by invit­ing the press to cover the ar­rival at the For­eign Min­istry of the No. 2 at the Turk­ish Em­bassy, Umut Deniz, who was called in and rep­ri­manded for Ankara’s treat­ment of Naeh. He was filmed be­ing asked for his doc­u­ments by a se­cu­rity guard at the gate.

For­eign Min­istry spokesman Em­manuel Nahshon said Is­rael viewed the air­port in­ci­dent – where Naeh was de­nied ac­cess to the VIP lounge, bod­ily searched and told to take off his shoes – with “ex­treme grav­ity.”

“It is un­ac­cept­able that the Is­raeli “am­bas­sador in Ankara is hu­mil­i­ated at the air­port in Is­tan­bul,” he said, adding that this was the mes­sage con­veyed to Deniz.

On Tues­day, af­ter Turkey re­called its am­bas­sador and told Naeh to leave “tem­po­rar­ily,” Is­rael re­sponded by ask­ing the same of Turkey’s con­sul-gen­eral in east Jerusalem. Ankara re­sponded to that on Wed­nes­day morn­ing by or­der­ing Is­rael’s con­sul-gen­eral in Is­tan­bul, Yosef Levi Sfari, to leave as well.

Channel 10, mean­while, re­ported that Is­rael re­fused a Turk­ish re­quest, con­veyed through in­ter­na­tional health of­fi­cials, to send a plane to Ben-Gu­rion Air­port to take peo­ple wounded in the vi­o­lence in Gaza to Turk­ish hospi­tals. Egypt has also re­port­edly de­nied a sim­i­lar re­quest.

Is­rael’s de­nial, ac­cord­ing to Channel 10, stemmed both from diplo­matic and se­cu­rity con­sid­er­a­tions. The re­port said Is­raeli of­fi­cials made clear to the in­ter­na­tional health of­fi­cials that the wounded could be treated ei­ther in Is­raeli or West Bank hospi­tals, and that Is­rael was also will­ing send medicine and med­i­cal equip­ment into Gaza.

Naeh, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, told the Turk­ish of­fi­cials when he was asked to leave the coun­try that the ex­pul­sion of the Is­raeli am­bas­sador would harm Turk­ish ef­forts to pro­vide hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance to Gaza.

Mean­while, Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan is con­ven­ing an emer­gency meet­ing of the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Is­lamic Co­op­er­a­tion (OIC) in Is­tan­bul on Fri­day to dis­cuss the sit­u­a­tion in Gaza. In De­cem­ber, he con­vened a sim­i­lar meet­ing fol­low­ing the US de­ci­sion to rec­og­nize Jerusalem as Is­rael’s cap­i­tal and move its em­bassy there, a meet­ing that turned into an Is­rael-bash­ing fest.

Er­do­gan spoke with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin on Wed­nes­day, and ac­cord­ing to a state­ment put out by the Krem­lin, the two men dis­cussed the “pub­lic protests in the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries against the open­ing of the US Em­bassy in Jerusalem.”

“Se­ri­ous con­cern was ex­pressed about the deaths of a large num­ber of par­tic­i­pants in these protests,” the state­ment read. The “Rus­sian side,” it con­tin­ued, “un­der­lined the im­por­tance of re­frain­ing from vi­o­lence and the need to launch an ef­fec­tive ne­go­ti­at­ing process to find mu­tu­ally ac­cept­able so­lu­tions based on rel­e­vant UN de­ci­sions.”

In ad­di­tion to the OIC meet­ing on Fri­day, a mas­sive anti-Is­rael rally is planned for Is­tan­bul’s Tak­sim Square that day.

On Wed­nes­day, a Channel 2 tele­vi­sion crew that was film­ing in the square was as­saulted when a passerby heard the crew speak­ing He­brew. The net­work’s re­porter, Ohad Chemo, said the man yelled “Mur­der­ers, mur­der­ers,” and dozens of peo­ple gath­ered. One man then be­gan push­ing and punch­ing the pro­ducer.

Chemo said the crew es­caped from the scene, and a few min­utes later the po­lice ar­rived. No one needed med­i­cal at­ten­tion.

(Reuters, Marc Is­rael Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

IS­RAELI AM­BAS­SADOR Ei­tan Na’eh (left) is filmed as he walks through the Ataturk In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Is­tan­bul yes­ter­day. In Jerusalem, a se­cu­rity of­fi­cer checks the cre­den­tials of Turk­ish Em­bassy chargé d’af­faires Umit Deniz as he ar­rives at the...

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