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Troubled relations with Israel hit a new low when an Israeli protest against a Turkish television series crossed the boundaries of diplomatic civility and turned into an insult against Ambassador Oğuz Çelikkol, in a scene that appeared to be the design of hawkish Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Turkish-Israeli relations have been strained since Israel’s deadly offensive in the Gaza Strip, which left about 1,400 Palestinians dead, including many civilians, and brought heavy international criticism upon Israel, including accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity by a United Nations investigation. Since the offensive, Turkish-Israeli bilateral relations have seen exchanges of harsh remarks between Israeli and Turkish officials and crisis incidents despite efforts to tone town the crisis atmosphere.

Nonetheless, Monday and Tuesday’s diplomatic kerfuffle between the two sides was an exception, since the way Çelikkol was treated by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon introduced an unprecedented example of diplomatic rudeness. Chronologically, the incident started when Ayalon summoned Çelikkol to the Knesset on Monday afternoon to express outrage over an episode of the popular Turkish television series, “Valley of the Wolves: Ambush,” which depicted Israeli intelligence service Mossad agents spying inside Turkey and kidnapping Turkish babies.

At the beginning of the meeting, Ayalon was seen telling the cameramen to film him and his aide sitting on tall chairs, and Çelikkol on a lower chair, with the Israeli flag in the middle.

The ambassador was also filmed waiting in a corridor for the meeting to begin, and when it did, he was offered nothing to drink or eat.

In Ankara, during the same hours on Monday afternoon, at a joint press conference with visiting Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lashed out at Israel for violating Lebanon’s airspace and using disproportionate force against Palestinians in Gaza.


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