Sunday, February 15, 2009
Turkish-Israeli Ties in a Stew
Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu Turkish-Israeli Ties in a Stew
Relations between Israel and Turkey worsened Saturday with Ankara's official warnings that Israel's election results "painted a very dark picture" for the Middle East. Turkey also summoned Israel's ambassador following a critical statement by an IDF officer. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview with Turkish media, "Unfortunately we have seen that the (Israeli) people have voted for these (rightist) parties and that makes me a bit sad. Unfortunately the election has painted a very dark picture."
Israel has had friendly relations with Turkey, and comments on a general election are considered unusual.
However, the country's relations with Israel have been problematic since last month's dramatic confrontation at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, when Erodgan scolded Israeli President Shimon Peres over Israel's war against terror in Gaza and called for the United Nations to expel Israel from the international body. Erodgan walked out during a response by President Peres.
In an apparent response to the criticism, IDF ground force commander Major-General Avi Mizrachi commented that the Turkish Prime Minister should "look in the mirror" before criticizing Israel. His references, some of them veiled, to genocide of Armenians, Turkish oppression of Kurds and its occupation in northern Cyprus prompted Ankara to summon Israeli ambassador Gabi Levy.
In an effort to calm the storm, the IDF issued a rare repudiation of Mizrachi's comments, stating that they did not represent the IDF position.
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