The Israeli Foreign Ministry on Monday announced the appointment of Irit Lillian as ambassador to Turkey, in the latest evidence of rapprochement between the nations following a decade-long-plus rift.

Lillian, who for the last two years has been in charge of the embassy in Ankara, is the first person to hold the post since 2018, when Turkey expelled Israel’s envoy and withdrew its own ambassador from Jerusalem amid fighting between the IDF and Palestinians along the Gaza border.

Once warm relations between Jerusalem and Ankara deteriorated rapidly following the rise to power of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a supporter of Hamas who has been a fierce critic of Israel’s policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians.

Ties reached a nadir in the wake of the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, in which nine Turkish nationals were killed after they attacked Israel Navy commandos boarding the ship, which was sent by an Islamist organization deemed close to Erdoğan and was attempting to break the blockade of Gaza.

In a sign of thawing relations, Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Turkey in March to meet with Erdogan.

In August, the two countries announced the restoration of full diplomatic relations, with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid saying, “Upgrading relations will contribute to deepening ties between the two peoples, expanding economic, trade and cultural ties, and strengthening regional stability.”

Lapid is scheduled to meet with Erdogan this week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.


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