Shimon Peres. Convinced PM
Photo: Reuters
Daniel Ayalon. Sent letter of apology
Photo: Reuters
Erdogan. Apology accepted
Photo: AP

Turkish official: Israel's lucky to have Peres

Ankara says willing to move past diplomatic incident between Deputy FM Ayalon, Turkish Ambassador Celikkol; credits Jewish state's president with orchestrating crisis' solution

Turkey officially accepted Israel's apology for the unsavory incident between Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon and Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Oguz Celikkol, but the move followed two embarrassing days for Israel's top diplomatic tier.


Ayalon initially reused to apologize, eventually yielding only to a request by President Shimon Peres.


Sources in the Turkish Foreign Ministry told Ynet Wednesday that Ankara is willing to put the incident in the past: "Sometimes, nations have their differences, but we cannot abide such humiliation. Only kings would place commoners on lower chairs. You're lucky you have Peres, the wise man of the Middle East."


The president appealed to both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and was eventually able to orchestrate a solution in the form of the apology.


Peres called on both men to reexamine the decision not to offer Turkey an official apology, noting that digging the proverbial heels in this case may cost Israel dearly on the diplomatic front.


Peres made it clear that the State of Israel should not be made to pay for Ayalon's highly embarrassing – and carefully staged – diplomatic faux pas. He then proceeded to convince Ayalon he had to solve the crisis, even at the expense of his pride.


Ayalon spoke on the matter with Lieberman, who told him the decision was ultimately his to make. Once Ayalon drafted the apology, and the wording was approved by Peres, Netanyahu and Lieberman, it was sent to Ambassador Celikkol.


'Ayalon should step down'

A senior Jerusalem source told Ynet that "Ayalon made his bed and now he has to lie in it. This shouldn’t be a State problem."


Many in the diplomatic corps said Wednesday that Ayalon should step down over the incident and the embarrassment suffered by Israel.


The deputy foreign minister's associates, however, rejected the option saying the "entire incident ended up playing in Israel's favor."


Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak is expected to visit Turkey next week, for a visit that was planed as part of the strategic and security cooperation between Jerusalem and Ankara.


Barak is expected to meet with his Turkish counterpart, the Turkish foreign minister and chief of staff, and possibly President Abdullah Gul.


Sources in Barak's office dismissed claims suggesting the visit was planned as part of Israel's appeasement efforts following the recent crisis.


Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report 


פרסום ראשון: 01.14.10, 00:50
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