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Israeli media slam govt handling of row with Turkey

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by Jean-Luc Renaudie Jean-luc Renaudie

JERUSALEM (AFP) – The Israeli media on Thursday slammed the government’s handling of a diplomatic row with Turkey in which it humiliated Ankara’s ambassador and then retreated with public apologies.


The front page of the “Israel HaYom” showing Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon sitting with the Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Celikkol in Jerusalem with an arrow showing “the height of humiliation” alongside a headline reading “War of Insults”. The Israeli media has slammed the government’s handling of a diplomatic row with Turkey. (AFP/File)

“The policy of ‘no more grovelling’ led by Foreign Minister (Avigdor) Lieberman, was transformed within a matter of days into a situation in which Israel was forced to dispatch an official and diplomatic apology,” Israel’s Maariv newspaper said in an article entitled “Capitulation.”

The spat again turned the spotlight on the controversial minister, an ultra-nationalist who has said Israel should strike back at international criticism and defend its “national honour.”

Under pressure from President Shimon Peres, Lieberman’s deputy Danny Ayalon issued a formal apology late on Wednesday as Turkey threatened to withdraw its envoy.

Ayalon on Monday had publicly dressed down Turkey’s ambassador to Israel, Oguz Celikkol, over a Turkish television series depicting Mossad agents as baby-snatchers.

Amnon Abramovitch, a television commentator on Israel’s Channel Two, criticised the “infantile conduct” of the government and a commentator on Israel’s military radio referred to the “humiliation after the humiliation.”

The centrist opposition Kadima party joined in criticising the government, with senior official Haim Ramon saying it “should also send a letter of apology to the Israeli people following the humiliation we have suffered.”

A spokesman for Israel’s hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted the protest was justified but said “the style and the procedure that were used were not appropriate and apologies were due.”

“The prime minister hopes the affair is behind us,” the spokesman, Nir Hefetz, told public radio.

An editorial in the left-leaning Haaretz meanwhile came to the defence of Ayalon and Lieberman, both members of the ultra-nationalist Israel Beitenu (Israel Our Home) party, for defending Israel’s “honour.”

“The competition between ex-diplomats, politicians, broadcasters and pundits to be the rudest in criticising the pair brings back memories of the times when anyone who publicly sought to restore the honour of the Jewish people was shouted down by a meek and frightened establishment for fear of angering the gentiles and bringing disaster upon the community,” it said.

“Lieberman… the outsider, who represents a national agenda, is a bull in the china shop of the foreign ministry, the DNA of which is stamped with restraint, apologetics and lip-biting.”

Turkey has been Israel’s main regional ally since the two signed a military cooperation pact in 1996, but relations were poisoned by Ankara’s severe criticism of Israel’s Gaza offensive in December 2008 and January 2009.

The series that sparked the row showed a Turkish secret agent storming an Israeli diplomatic mission to rescue a Turkish boy kidnapped by Mossad agents, an episode Israel slammed for portraying Israel and Jews “as baby-snatchers and war criminals.”

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January 18, 2010 at 7:57 am

Catholic bishops criticize Israel on Palestinians

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By BEN HUBBARD, Associated Press Writer Ben Hubbard

JERUSALEM – A high-level delegation of Roman Catholic bishops criticized Israeli polices in Arab sectors of Jerusalem on Thursday and called for more contacts between ordinary Israelis and Palestinians.


Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal talks to a reporter after a press conference concerning the release of the final communique of the 10th Holy Land Coordination in Jerusalem’s Old City, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010. A high-level delegation of North American and European Catholic bishops has criticized Israeli polices in east Jerusalem and called for greater contact between ordinary Israelis and Palestinians. Concluding their annual Holy Land visit, the group issued a statement saying that violence, insecurity, home demolitions, the route of Israel’s West Bank separation barrier and other policies ‘threaten both a two-state solution and the Christian presence.’ (AP Photo/ Tara Todras-Whitehill)

The group of eight bishops from North America and Europe said violence, insecurity, the route of Israel’s West Bank separation barrier, home demolitions and other policies threaten peace prospects and endanger the dwindling Christian presence in the Holy Land.

The issue of Jerusalem – home to holy sites for Jews, Christians and Muslims – remains the most flammable in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinians claim the city’s eastern sector as the capital of their future state. Israel, which captured east Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war, insists the city will never be divided.

In a statement issued at the end of their annual visit, the bishops called for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

“For us, this is not merely about politics; it is an issue of basic human rights,” the statement said.

During their visit, the bishops visited Christian institutions in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, talked with Palestinians about their lives and listened to presentations from Israeli and Palestinian experts. It was unclear if they met with ordinary Jewish Israelis.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev disputed the group’s criticisms of Israel’s east Jerusalem policies.

“Only since reuniting Jerusalem in 1967 have the holy places of all faiths been protected under law and freedom of religion has prevailed,” he said.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the bishops spoke of watching Palestinian children cross Israeli checkpoints to return from school and the humiliation Palestinians say they feel at such places. Israel says the crossings are necessary to prevent attacks.

Bishop Gerald Kicanas, vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the human rights situation for Palestinians in the Holy Land has gotten worse during the 20 years that he has been visiting the region.

Kicanas, also the bishop of Tucson, Arizona, said Israeli and Palestinian youth lack opportunities to meet each other.

“Unless they find a way to engage one another, to meet one another as ordinary human beings, the situation will remain grave,” he said.

Written by rohitkumarsviews

January 18, 2010 at 7:56 am