(October 7, 2022 / JNS) Turkey on Thursday appointed Sakir Ozkan Torunlar as the country’s new ambassador to Israel, the Anadolu Agency reported, in the latest evidence of rapprochement between the once-strong allies following a decade-long-plus rift.
Torunlar previously served as Ankara’s consul general in Jerusalem between 2010 and 2013.
The senior Turkish diplomat assumes the position four years after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan withdrew Turkey’s ambassador from Israel and ousted Jerusalem’s top envoy amid fighting between the IDF and Palestinians along the Gaza Strip border.
The move comes after Israel last month announced the appointment of Irit Lillian, who for the last two years has been in charge of the embassy in Ankara, as ambassador to Turkey.
Once warm relations between Jerusalem and Ankara deteriorated rapidly following the rise to power of Erdoğan, 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 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.”
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