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Israel apology

January 13, 2010

Israel has formally apologized after Turkey threatened to recall its ambassador over what Ankara regarded as a public dressing down earlier this week.

Ayalon and Celikkol seated across from each other, one much lower than the other
Seating arrangements - the bone of contentionImage: AP

Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on Wednesday sent an official letter of apology to Turkish Ambassador Oguz Celikkol for giving him an angry dressing down on national television to protest against a Turkish TV drama portraying Mossad agents as baby snatchers.

"There was no intention to personally humiliate the ambassador," he wrote.

Ayalon also wrote that he regretted the way his protest was conveyed.

In television images that were broadcast extensively in both Israel and Turkey, Ayalon and his aide were pictured earlier this week at his parliamentary office sitting on tall chairs, with the Turkish envoy on a low couch.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who helped coordinate the Israeli letter, said in a statement he hoped the matter was now resolved.

The premier also expressed concern over the cooling of ties between the two nations. Relations have been strained ever since Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip a year ago, which has drawn harsh criticism from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Dissatisfaction with earlier statement

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has criticized Israel over the Gaza warImage: AP

Turkey had rejected a previous Israeli attempt to make amends for humiliating its ambassador, as that statement fell short of an apology. Ankara threatened to pull out Celikkol first thing on Thursday morning for consultations should there be no formal apology.

The row overshadows a planned visit by Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, who said, however, that he would travel to Turkey on Sunday despite the tensions.

Editor: Michael Lawton