Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu publicly refused to shake outgoing Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s hand at a February international security conference in Munich, a Turkish newspaper reported on Sunday.
Davutoğlu and Barak were assigned seats opposite each other at an informal dinner hosted by Bavarian leader Horst Seehofer, according to the report in Today’s Zaman. Also present were US Vice President Joe Biden, Macedonian President Gjorgje Ivanov and Croatian President Ivo Josipović.
The assembled dignitaries began to greet each other and shake hands, but Davutoğlu noticeably refrained from offering his hand to Barak, who then joked that because of the wide table, “we can’t reach each other’s hand,” the report said.
Davutoğlu in return reportedly said, “No, the problem is not the size of the table. There will always be a distance between us unless you meet our demands,” likely a reference to Turkey’s request for a formal apology for the Gaza flotilla incident, which Israel has refused.
In 2010, nine activists, including eight Turkish citizens, were killed after the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara was boarded by IDF soldiers. Since then, political relations between Turkey and Israel have been at a nadir, although economic ties remain strong.
Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly refused an offer from Barak to take responsibility for the Mavi Marmara incident and issue an apology.
National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror and top Foreign Ministry officials reportedly held unsuccessful talks several weeks ago in Rome with officials from Turkey’s foreign ministry in an attempt to ease relations between the two countries.
Recently, the troubled relationship between the two countries was highlighted when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Zionism a “crime against humanity.”