WikiLeaks Releases to Complicate Israeli Ambassador’s Job in Turkey

ANKARA (Hurriyet)–Classified documents released Sunday by WikiLeaks will likely make the final months of Gabby Levy’s term as Israel’s ambassador to Ankara even more challenging amid already-deteriorating relations between the two countries, the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review reported Tuesday.

In a cable sent last year by then-U.S. envoy to Ankara James Jeffrey, Levy is quoted blaming Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hatred of Israel for the diplomatic rift. “He’s a fundamentalist. He hates us religiously,” the document quoted Levy as saying of Erdogan.

The publishing of these comments could further limit Levy’s contacts in Ankara, where some figures may avoid being seen with him out of fear of Erdogan’s reaction. The Israeli Embassy in Ankara declined to comment on the leaked cables.

Levy, who is expected to finish his term in the summer and is due to retire next winter, was appointed to Ankara in 2006. During his time in Turkey, he has experienced both highs and lows in bilateral ties.

The Israeli diplomat accompanied Israeli President Shimon Perez on his visit to Ankara in 2007, when his address to Turkish lawmakers made him the first Israeli president to speak in the Parliament of a Muslim country. But starting from 2008, Levy had to negotiate stormy seas, as relations declined and bottomed out when Israeli’s May 31 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla killed nine Turkish citizens.

While Levy was invited to President Abdullah Gul’s official Republic Day reception on October 29, he did not receive the nod for the fast-breaking meal (iftar) hosted by Erdogan during Ramadan for diplomatic representatives in Turkey. The Israeli diplomat is said to have also faced difficulties in unofficial circles as well.

Although relations between Turkey and Israel show little sign of improving, more than one Israeli diplomat has applied for the challenging post in Ankara. “Turkey remains a very important country for us and a top foreign-policy priority,” said an Israeli official.

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