Israel-Turkey ties strain again over TV show

JERUSALEM - Israel slammed Turkey on Monday for the broadcast of a television series that portrays Israeli agents as baby-snatchers, further ratcheting up tensions between the longtime allies.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon summoned the Turkish ambassador to protest the broadcast, the foreign ministry said in a statement. It is the second time Israel has protested over a Turkish TV show.

Israel-Turkey ties strain again over TV show
Israel issued a similar protest last October when another Turkish series showed Israeli soldiers shooting young Palestinian children in cold blood.
"We protest in the name of the Israeli government against scenes from this Turkish television series showing Israel and Jews as baby-snatchers and war criminals," the ministry statement said.
"It is unacceptable... It threatens Jewish lives in Turkey and bilateral relations," he said.
Ayalon was referring to the "Valley of the Wolves," a new series, originally aired on state television and rebroadcast on a private channel, which he said showed agents of Israel's Mossad foreign intelligence agency in a bad light.
Turkish programme-makers Pana defended their series.
"Valley of the Wolves will continue to tell the truth and expose the guilty parties," the company said in a statement carried by Turkey's Anatolia news agency.
"The Jewish state has been repeatedly declared guilty of war crimes in UN resolutions or in the reports of international human rights organisations.
"Why does the Israeli administration, which does not hesitate to bomb children seeking refuge under the UN flag, feel so uneasy about the real facts related in Valley of the Wolves?"
The production company was alluding to Israel's bombing of UN-run schools in Gaza during its devastating offensive a year ago, schools in which civilians fleeing the bombardment had taken refuge.
The latest Israeli protest came as Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined his Lebanese counterpart on Monday in lashing out at Israel for its air strikes on Gaza, during a visit by Saad Hariri to Ankara.
"They (the Israelis) have disproportionate capabilities and power and they use them... They do not abide by UN resolutions... They say they will do what they like," Erdogan said.
Israel's response came shortly afterwards, slamming Erdogan's "unbridled attack" and accusing him of seeking to harm ties.
"Israel is sensitive to Turkey's honour and seeks good bilateral ties, but we expect reciprocity," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
"Erdogan's declarations join the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic programme on Turkish television and other severe things said against Israel for over a year."
Turkey has been Israel's main regional ally since 1998 when the two signed a military cooperation deal.
Relations took a sharp turn for the worse when Turkey responded angrily to Israel's devastating Gaza offensive.
In a memorable outburst, Erdogan stormed out of a debate at the World Economic Forum, accusing Israel of "barbarian" acts and telling its President Shimon Peres, sitting next to him, that "you know well how to kill people."
But in December, Peres and his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul met in a bid to heal the rift.

Monday, January 11th 2010

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