An Israeli ambassador described Turkey’s prime minister as a “fundamentalist” who hates the Jewish state on religious grounds, according a U.S. diplomatic cable recently released.
“Levy dismissed political calculation as a motivator for Erdogan’s hostility, arguing the prime minister’s party had not gained a single point in the polls from his bashing of Israel,” says the cable, which was sent by the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, and released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.
Israeli-Turkish relations, which deteriorated after Turkey criticized Israel’s 2008-09 war in Gaza, collapsed last year after nine Turks were killed in a melee with Israeli commandos aboard a ship seeking to run Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.
In advance of the release of a U.N. report on the deadly incident, Israeli and Turkish negotiators have been working on a formula for resuming relations that would satisfy Turkish demands for an Israeli apology.
Israel reportedly is concerned that, if the talks fail, Turkey will not approve a replacement for Mr. Levy, whose term is scheduled to expire in a week. Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Tel Aviv immediately after the shipboard skirmish.
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Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.
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