Sofa provokes diplomatic row between Israel and Turkey
(Telegraph) -- By Rob Crilly in Jerusalem --
There is usually a strict etiquette for diplomatic disagreements, and carefully worded reprimands are delivered in private.
So Ahmet Oguz Celikkol, the Turkish ambassador to Tel Aviv, was surprised when he arrived for a meeting with Israel’s deputy foreign minister to be greeted by the country’s assembled press corps.
After refusing to shake Mr Celikkol’s hand, Danny Ayalon invited him to sit on a sofa — several inches lower than his own chair — before delivering a rebuke in front of cameras.
On Wednesday, the snub escalated into a full-blown diplomatic incident as the Turkish president threatened to recall his ambassador, despite Israeli attempts to defuse the row.
The meeting had been called for the Israelis to lodge a complaint about a Turkish television show that portrayed Israeli secret agents as child snatchers. But that row was quickly overshadowed by the perceived humiliation of the ambassador.
Footage from Tuesday’s dressing down included Mr Ayalon pointing out to journalists that the ambassador was seated on a low sofa. He was also heard telling reporters that only the Israeli flag was on display.
“Unless they make up for it by this evening, our ambassador will return on the first plane tomorrow,” said Abdullah Gul, the Turkish president...
Relations between the two countries have soured since Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip last year, of which Turkey was heavily critical.
Last night Israel bowed to Ankara’s ultimatum and issued an apology in the form of a formal letter to Turkey.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, said Ankara had received the apology it “wanted and expected”.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, rebuked his foreign ministry over their handling of the incident and said in a statement that he hoped the matter was now resolved...MORE...LINK
Bizarre: Israeli Foreign Minister Danni Ayalon (left) staged an office with a squat sofa, summoned Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Oguz Celikkol to a "meeting" attended by reporters and photographers, seated himself on an elevated chair and Celikkol down low so photographs could be taken and publicly circulated. After a diplomatic firestorm in which Ayalon refused to apologize, the Israel government later issued a formal apology. (No word on whether Ayalon will be fired or compelled to seek psychiatric care.) (Photograph: telegraph.co)
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