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Turkey demands Israel apology, threatens to pull ambassador

After Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon was seen as deliberately snubbing the Turkish ambassador earlier this week, Turkey is demanding a full apology by Wednesday night and threatening to pull its ambassador out of Israel.

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Israel offered contrition Wednesday for its behavior toward Turkey in a growing diplomatic spat that is testing ties between the two countries, whose strategic alliance appears to be deteriorating.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon issued a statement acknowledging that his treatment of Ankara's ambassador to Tel Aviv, Oguz Celikkol, had been inappropriate. Mr. Celikkol had been called in to meet with Mr. Ayalon to voice Israel's concerns over an anti-Israel television program in Turkey. During the meeting, Ayalon noted to Israeli reporters that the Turkish envoy was intentionally seated in a couch that was lower than Ayalon's, that there was no Turkish flag on the table, and no smiles.

"My protest against the attacks on Israel in Turkey remains valid," Ayalon said. "Nevertheless, it is not my way to disrespect ambassadors' honor, and in the future, I will clarify my position in a diplomatically acceptable manner."

Ayalon did not actually use the words "sorry" or "apologize" in his statement, leading to complaints in Ankara that this was an insufficient gesture of remorse. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said that unless Israel apologizes to Ankara by Wednesday evening, the Turkish government would withdraw its ambassador altogether, theAl-Jazeera satellite channel reported.

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