Greek-Israel ties bolstered

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 19, 2010

The diplomatic relationship between Israel and Turkey continued to deteriorate this week in the wake of the Gaza flotilla raid, as the ambassador to Ankara was publicly snubbed. At the same time, Israel bolstered its ties with Turkey's rival neighbour, Greece, with a prime ministerial visit.

Israel's ambassador was not invited to a Ramadan "Iftar" supper hosted by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Iftar meal was attended by all the ambassadors in Ankara but Israeli representative, Gabi Levy, was pointedly left out.

A senior official in Mr Erdogan's party said that Ambassador Levy was not invited "as a signal of our refusal to accept the fact that Israel has not apologised for the murder of our citizens". Sources at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said that they were "not surprised" as "Erdogan is doing everything possible to prolong this crisis."

However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the first official visit of an Israeli PM to Greece this week. It follows a similar visit by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou to Jerusalem two weeks ago.

The two leaders agreed to further co-operation between Israel and Greece in the defence and economic fields. One idea aired by the two PMs is to develop a joint tourism package to incorporate visits to Jerusalem and Athens, "the foundations of western culture".

Last updated: 2:00pm, August 19 2010