The Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Wednesday the only remaining Turkish representative in Israel for a hearing to protest the security check Israel’s ambassador to Turkey was subjected to upon leaving the country.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry ordered Israeli Ambassador Eitan Naeh to leave Turkey Tuesday for consultations for an undetermined period of time over the killing by Israeli forces of 60 Palestinians.
Turkish media was invited to cover the departure of Naeh, who was subjected to what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs described as a harsh security check. Apparantly, Naeh was requested by security personnel at Istanbul Airport to take off his shoes while the Turkish press looked on.
Several veteran diplomats familiar with protocol at the airport told Haaretz that it’s not unusual for diplomats to undergo security checks, particularly at the additional security check before boarding. However, they said, it was atypical for photographers to be invited, and they would not be possible for them to enter the area without the approval of a senior official.
To retaliate, the press was invited to witness the Turkish representative arrive for his hearing in Tel Aviv.
In response to Naeh’s expulsion, Israel ordered the Turkish consul general in Jerusalem, Husnu Gurcan Turkoglu, who is responsible for Turkey’s relations with the Palestinians, to return home for consultations. Turkey’s ambassador to Tel Aviv had already been recalled, as had Turkey’s ambassador in Washington.
In response to Israel expelling the Turkish envoy, Turkey summoned Israel’s consul general in Istanbul, Yossi Levi Safri, and also asked him to leave the country.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that “Netanyahu is the PM of an apartheid state. … He has the blood of Palestinians on his hands and can’t cover up crimes by attacking Turkey.” Commenting on Twitter, the Turkish president said Israel has been occupying the land of defenseless people in violation of United Nations resolutions. He suggested that Netanyahu consult the Ten Commandments if he wants a lesson in humanity.
In return, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Erdogan. “A man who sends thousands of Turkish soldiers to hold the occupation of northern Cyprus and invades Syria will not preach to us when we defend ourselves from an attempt by Hamas. A man whose hands are stained with the blood of countless Kurdish citizens in Turkey and Syria is the last person to preach to us about combat ethics.”
In September 2011, Turkey downgraded its diplomatic relations with Israel, recalled its ambassador in Tel Aviv and expelled the Israeli ambassador in Ankara in response to a UN inquiry that found Israel had not violated international law when it commandeered a Turkish flotilla in 2010 that was trying to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Ten passengers on one ship, the Mavi Marmara, were killed in the confrontation.
In a 2016 reconciliation deal, Israel transferred $20 million to a fund set up by the Turkish government to financially compensate the Turkish victims’ families.
In 2010, Danny Ayalon, Israel’s deputy foreign minister at the time, issued a statement of apology to Turkey’s then-ambassador Ahmet Oguz Celikkol after saying in a meeting: “Pay attention that he is sitting in a lower chair … that there is only an Israeli flag on the table and that we are not smiling.”
On Monday, South Africa recalled its ambassador in Israel. “The South Africa government condemns in the strongest terms possible the latest act of violent aggression carried out by Israeli armed forces along the Gaza border,” the Department of International Relations and Cooperation said.