Yishai. Inclined not to arrive
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Lieberman. Don't expect him there
Photo: AFP
Ben-Eliezer. 'Don't add fuel to the fire'
Photo: AFP
Misezhnikov. 'Stop incitement'
Photo: Knesset website
Edelstein. It's not rain
Photo: Haim Zach
Photo: AFP
Barak. Yet to decide
Photo: AFP

Ministers to boycott Turkish Independence Day celebrations

Many government members invited to party at Turkish ambassador's residence later this month plan not to show up on backdrop of recent tensions between countries, Ynet learns. Diaspora Minister Edelstein: Turks are spitting in our face

Many government ministers who have been invited to celebrate Turkey's 86th Independence Day later this month at the Turkish ambassador's residence in Kfar Shmaryahu, are planning to boycott the event on the backdrop of recent tensions between Jerusalem and Ankara, Ynet has learned.


There are those, however, who say that "we must not heat up the atmosphere and add fuel to the fire."

Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who is slated to represent the government at the event, is inclined to boycott it or, alternatively, show up and deliver a scathing speech.


Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is not expected to arrive, while Defense Minister Ehud Barak has yet to make a decision on the matter. President Shimon Peres has refused to say whether he plans to accept the Turkish Embassy's invitation or not.


The event is schedule to take place on October 29. Many ministers have wondered whether the invitation was a goodwill gesture on the part of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government in a bid to ease the tension, or whether it is simply routine diplomatic conduct, which the ministers are considering boycotting in order to manifest the Israeli government's discontent with the Turkish attitude.


The recent crisis began last week, when Turkey decided to exclude Israel from a joint air force drill, and continued with a Turkish TV series showing Israeli soldiers deliberately killing Palestinian children. On Friday, Turkey voted in favor of adopting the Goldstone Report, which accuses Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza, at the United Nations' Human Rights Council.


Lieberman has yet to confirm his arrival, but his associates have said he will not take part in the celebration. The foreign minister has already boycotted an event organized by the Chinese Embassy, in protest of the country's vote at the Human Rights Council. Officials at the Foreign Ministry have refused to comment on the matter.

Invitation sent to ministers


Barak's office said in a statement that the defense minister has yet to make a decision on the matter.


Deputy Prime Minister Yishai, who is slated to be the senior Israeli representative at the Turkish ambassador's party, is inclined to pass on the invitation on the backdrop of the series chain of events. Another option he is considering is arriving at the ambassador's residence and criticizing Ankara's rigid attitude towards the Israeli government.


Edelstein: Don't go

Information and Diaspora Minister Yuli Edelstein, who has decided not to accept the Turkish invitation, told Ynet, "It's unthinkable that they are spitting in our face and we are showing, 'Rain, rain.'


"I have no plans to arrive and I hope my fellow ministers act the same way. If the Turks wish to lower the flames, this is not the way to do it. For example, they should have voted against adopting the Goldstone Report by the UN Human Rights Council, but they chose to act differently," he said.


"I have not heard the Turkish Embassy in Israel condemning the series on their state-sponsored TV channel, which shows IDF soldiers shooting children and babies," Edelstein said of the controversial television program revealed by Ynet. "If the Turks seek to reach the European Union, they must understand that they cannot dance on Israel's back together with Zimbabwe and Gabon," the minister added, saying his conscience does not allow him to take part in the celebrations.


Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, on the other hand, plans to arrive at the ambassador's residence.


"Our relations with Turkey are strategic and we must maintain them at any cost," he explained. "Of course I plan to take part in the event I have been invited to. We must not heat up the atmosphere and add more fuel to the fire.


"At such moments, the leadership's duty is not to talk from the stomach, but to take one step forward," said the minister, who has a history of extensive ties with the Turkish authorities.


Hershkowitz: I won't visit Turkey

Another minister who strongly opposes any official Israeli participation in the Turkish celebration is Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz. "As long as the Turkish government fails to condemn and even encourages the blood libels against IDF soldiers and the State of Israel, I have no plans to visit Turkey or its embassy in Israel," he said.


"The Turks' history shows that they can learn about human rights from Israel," Hershkowitz added, referring to the Armenian genocide.


Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov has not been invited to the event, but said that Ankara must act firmly to prevent expressions of incitement and anti-Semitism, as seen on the state-sponsored TV channel.


"Such content inflames hatred and may encourage acts of violence and terrorism by extremists against Israeli and Jewish targets," he added. "This incitement has no room among countries with full diplomatic relations."


The tourism minister said that he supports the consumer boycotts against vacations in Turkey, but explained that Israel views Turkey as an important element in the Middle Eastern arena, which could help stabilize the region.


"Both sides have a strategic interest to maintain and strengthen this system, and Israel will act accordingly, in accordance with Turkey's conduct," he concluded.


פרסום ראשון: 10.18.09, 19:58
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