Turkey’s ties with Israel continue to deteriorate with the Israel raising strong objections over the negative portrayal on Turkish state-television of Israeli soldiers embroiled in conflict in Gaza.
The show, called Ayrilik, is a love story involving its lead characters in the backdrop of Israel’s winter incursion of Gaza. In one of the clips, Israeli soldiers can be seen shooting a smiling young girl in the chest. The drama also has images of tanks overrunning a crowded street, as well as of a firing squad lining up Palestinians.
In a statement, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said “broadcasting this series is incitement of the most severe kind, and it is done under government sponsorship”. He added that the show “isn’t worthy of being broadcast even by enemy states and certainly not in a state, which has full diplomatic relations with Israel”.
Israel’s relations with Turkey have been badly hit as Ankara accelerates the reorientation its foreign policy by deepening its ties with the Arab and Islamic world, especially after the 22-day winter war in Gaza.
Military ties between Israel and Turkey have cooled after host Ankara last week barred Israel from participating in multinational air combat exercise, which also had the United States and NATO as partners.
Simultaneously, Turkey has been shoring up ties with Syria, Israel’s arch-foe. Syria and Turkey have earlier this week decided to actively promote people-to-people contacts by signing a visa-free agreement.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now set to visit Syria in December, in what analysts say, would be a substantial effort to push political, trade and energy ties.
Turkey’s deepening engagement with Syria has already caught the imagination of a wide section of the Arab world. A commentary in the Lebanese newspaper As Safir noted that the warming of ties between Ankara and Damascus is “strategic [and] closes many pages of the hurtful past between the two countries and the two people”.