Israel and Turkey Row Over TV Show

Israel-Turkey relations sink to new low after row over 'Valley of the Wolves.'

January 12, 2010, 6:33 AM

JERUSALEM, Jan. 12, 2010 — -- Diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey have hit rock bottom. Israelis are furious about a new Turkish TV show called "Valley of the Wolves," which is broadcast on a privately run channel.

A recent episode portrayed Israeli secret agents kidnapping children and the assassination of the Israeli ambassador.

Ever since Israel's controversial war in Gaza last year, relations with Turkey's moderate Islamic government have soured.

At last year's Davos Economic Summit, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan walked out of a public meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres after an angry exchange about Israel's use of force. Before Israel launched its attack on Gaza, Turkey had been mediating peace talks between Israel and Syria.

Israel's deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon Monday called a meeting with Turkey's ambassador in Tel Aviv to complain about the TV show.

But Israeli newspapers reported today that Ayalon told waiting cameraman, "the important thing is that people see that he's sitting low down and we're up high."

Photographs clearly show the Turkish ambassador, Ahmet Oguz Celikkol, sitting on a low couch opposite the Israelis, who are on much higher chairs. The ambassador, according to witnesses, looked uneasy throughout.

The meeting conditions threatened to further damage relations. Israeli foreign ministry insiders have expressed their outrage at the way diplomatic conventions were flouted.

"This policy is outside the diplomatic game and it is immensely damaging to Israel," one unnamed official told Israel's daily Ma'ariv.

Both deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon and his boss, foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, are from the right-wing Israel Is Our Home Party.

The party is an important part of Israel's right-wing coalition but the appointment of the two men to lead Israel's international diplomacy has embarrassed many Israelis.

In response to the latest controversy ,Lieberman has demanded that Israel's ambassador in Ankara be recalled. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected his demand.

Turkish P.M. Launches Vitriolic Attack on Israel

There was no sign of Turkish anger subsiding, however. At a joint news conference with Lebanon's prime minister Monday, prime minister Erdogan launched another vitriolic attack against Israel.

"It is impossible to remain silent about what Israel is doing," he said. "We believe pressure should be exerted on the Israeli administration. According to U.N. resolutions, Israel has violated rules over 100 times."

Israel's defence minister Ehud Barak is due to travel to Turkey in a bid to improve relations. But some observers believe his own foreign ministry may be trying to undermine his efforts.

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