Israeli President Isaac Herzog speaks during the Jerusalem Post 10th annual conference in Jerusalem on Oct 12, 2021. (Gil COHEN-MAGEN / AFP)
JERUSALEM – Turkish Ambassador Sakir Ozkan Torunlar presented his credentials to Israel's President Isaac Herzog on Wednesday, marking the latest step in rebuilding relations between the two countries after years of acrimony.
In a statement issued on his behalf, Herzog underscored the importance of relations between Israel and Türkiye. "Today we complete another important step, reaching another milestone in the strengthening of our relations and deepening of the friendship between Türkiye and Israel," Herzog said after the ceremony.
The ceremony in Jerusalem came weeks after Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu, who served as prime minister from 2009 to 2021, returned to power at the helm of the country's most far-right government
The Israeli president also conveyed an invitation for Türkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to visit Israel, Herzog's office said.
In December, the Israeli new ambassador to Türkiye, Irit Lillian, presented her credentials to Erdogan.
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The exchange of ambassadors follows an agreement signed between the two countries in August, in which they agreed to restore full diplomatic ties.
The ceremony in Jerusalem came weeks after Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu, who served as prime minister from 2009 to 2021, returned to power at the helm of the country's most far-right government.
Once close allies, Israel-Türkiye relations have gone through a string of crises. In 2010, Türkiye cut its diplomatic ties with Israel after Israeli commandos raided a Turkish flotilla that was bringing aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip, led by the Mavi Marmara ship. Ten Turkish activists were killed.
Ties were restored in 2016 after Israel agreed to pay $20 million to families of the Mavi Marmara victims.
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But the short-lived normalization lasted for two years. In 2018, bilateral relations were strained again and the two expelled each other's top diplomats amid a quarrel over the Israeli killing of 60 Palestinians in Gaza during their protests against the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.