Israel appoints ambassador to Turkey as sign of warming ties

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JERUSALEM (TBEN) — Israel on Monday announced the appointment of a new ambassador to Turkey — the latest sign of warming relations between the two countries after more than a decade-long rift.

Irit Lillian, a senior diplomat who has been in charge of the Israeli embassy in Ankara for the past two years, will serve as ambassador, the Israeli Foreign Ministry has announced.

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She is the first person to hold the position since 2018, when Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Israel and kicked the Israeli ambassador out of the country to protest the killing of dozens of Palestinians by Israeli gunfire during protests along the Gaza border.

Once-warm relations began to deteriorate after the election of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an outspoken critic of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, to prime minister in 2003. Tensions reached a peak in 2010, when Israeli forces stormed a Turkish ship that was being hit by a Israeli blockade to provide humanitarian aid to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Nine Turkish activists were killed.

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In a move toward rapprochement, Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Turkey in March to meet with Erdogan. Israel and Turkey officially announced the restoration of full diplomatic relations, including an exchange of ambassadors, in June.

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