Categories: Economic News

Israel and Turkey to exchange ambassadors in diplomatic reset

JERUSALEM — Israel and Turkey will restore full diplomatic relations and send ambassadors for the first time in years, the latest step in months of reconciliation between the two countries, the Israeli prime minister’s office said Wednesday.

The two countries, once friends, had a quarrel of more than a decade, but at the beginning of the year Israel and Turkey started a rapprochement process.

“The resumption of relations with (Turkey) is an important asset for regional stability and very important economic news for the citizens of Israel,” Israel’s acting Prime Minister Yair Lapid said.

Once warm relations between Israel and Turkey disintegrated under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been an outspoken critic of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. Israel, in turn, has opposed Turkey’s embrace of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

The countries recalled their respective ambassadors in 2010, after Israeli forces stormed a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying humanitarian aid for the Palestinians that broke the Israeli blockade. The incident resulted in the death of nine Turkish activists.

After an attempt to mend ties, Turkey recalled its ambassador in 2018 after the United States moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Israel captured East Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed East Jerusalem, a move not recognized by most countries, which maintain embassies in the metropolis waterfront of Tel Aviv. The Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed the decision to reappoint ambassadors and said Ankara will send its ambassador to Tel Aviv. He said, however, that Turkey would continue to support the Palestinians despite the normalization process with Israel.

“A dialogue process started with Israel after the new government took office,” Cavusoglu told reporters. “The appointment of ambassadors was one of the steps we said we would take to normalize relations.”

“We will continue to defend the rights of Palestine, Jerusalem and Gaza,” he added.

Turkey, beset by economic problems, has sought to end its international isolation by normalizing ties with several Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this year, Lapid visited Ankara in June, a month after his Turkish counterpart visited Jerusalem, the first high-level visit by a Turkish official in 15 years. In March, Israeli President Isaac Herzog met with Erdogan in the Turkish capital.

“Improving relations will contribute to deepening ties between the two peoples, expanding economic, trade and cultural ties and strengthening regional stability,” Lapid’s office said in a statement.


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