Turkey denies Israeli envoy is seeking transfer


JERUSALEM (JTA) –Turkey has denied reports that its ambassador to Israel has asked to be relieved of his duties.

Israeli media reported Tuesday that Ahmet Oguz Celikkol requested a transfer to a new posting in another country in the wake of a public dressing down by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.

Both the Turkish Foreign Ministry and the Turkish Embassy in Israel denied that the request had been made, according to Haaretz.

Ayalon apologized on Jan. 13 for calling in Celikkol and embarrassing him in front of television cameras in the wake of a verbal attack on Israel by the Turkish prime minister and a new anti-Israel Turkish television drama, the second such show aired in several months.

During the televised meeting, Celikko was made to sit on a lower chair than Ayalon and the table between them only displayed an Israeli flag. Ayalon did not shake the Turkish envoy’s hand.

Shortly after the incident, Celikko expressed an interest in leaving Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported, which said his top advisers also want to leave.

Relations between Israel and Turkey have been strained since Israel’s military operation last winter in Gaza. 

"Our relations with Turkey are important. They have recently experienced a decline, and that wasn’t our choice," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday during a joint news conference with visiting Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. "I believe both countries have an interest to stabilize these relations."

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