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Israel, Turkey Diplomatic Dispute Escalates


Turkey on Tuesday summoned the Israeli ambassador in Ankara to demand an apology over the treatment of the Turkish ambassador to Israel.

Turkey's ties with Israel have been strained since Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip last year.

On Monday, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon summoned the Turkish ambassador to Israel to complain about Turkish television series depicting Israeli security forces as kidnappers of children and war criminals.

During that meeting, Ayalon told photographers to note that Ambassador Ahmed Oguz Celikkol was given a seat on a sofa lower than his own chair and that there was no Turkish flag on display.

Turkey's foreign ministry Tuesday demanded that Israel honor what it called "diplomatic courtesy and respect."

In an interview with Israel's Army Radio on Tuesday, Ayalon was unapologetic.

Despite the dispute, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is scheduled to visit Turkey on Sunday for talks with senior officials.

Israel's foreign ministry also rebuffed Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's criticism on Monday of Israel's operation in Gaza. Mr. Erdogan urged Israel to stop using what he said was disproportionate force against Palestinians in Gaza and he called Israel a threat to world peace.

About 1,300 Palestinians were killed during the Gaza operation. Thirteen Israelis died.

Israel's foreign ministry said in a statement that Turkey is in no position to "preach morality."

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Tuesday reiterated that the Gaza offensive marked a turning point in relations between Turkey and Israel. He said Israel attacked Gaza, just "one day before" Turkey was close to achieving peace between Israel and Syria. Davutoglu made the comments in London following talks with his British counterpart, David Miliband.

Turkey has mediated four rounds of peace talks between Syria and Israel, which were suspended following the Gaza offensive.

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