Israel names Irit Lillian new ambassador to Turkey


Israel has appointed a new ambassador to Turkey after a decade-long rift as the two states continue to restore full diplomatic ties.

Irit Lillian, head of the Israeli embassy in Ankara for two years, has been appointed to the post, the Israeli Foreign Ministry announced on Monday.

Ms Lillian is the first person to hold a high-level diplomatic post at the embassy since 2018, when Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Israel and Israel withdrew its ambassador in Ankara.

Turkey’s decision was to protest the killing of dozens of Palestinians by Israeli fire during demonstrations along the Gaza border.

After Recep Tayyip Erdogan was appointed prime minister in 2003, relations between the two began to deteriorate, with Mr Erdogan known to be a vocal critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

In response, Israel objected to Turkey’s support for the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

The tension peaked in 2010 when the two countries withdrew their envoys for the first time and Israeli forces stormed a Turkish ship that breached an Israeli blockade to deliver humanitarian aid to the Gaza-ruled Strip. by Hamas.

The incident resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists. But between difficult periods in the two countries’ relations, there were attempts at redress and in 2016 diplomatic relations were restored after talks between former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mr Erdogan.

Ties were cut again in 2018, after the US Embassy in Jerusalem opened and former US President Donald Trump said Washington would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In 2020, Turkey reappointed an ambassador to Israel but full relations have not been restored.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Turkey in March and met Mr Erdogan in a step towards rapprochement.

Last month, Israel and Turkey announced that they had agreed to restore full diplomatic relations and fire their ambassadors.

Despite warming relations, Ankara said it would continue to support the Palestinians.

Updated: September 20, 2022, 08:19


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