Israeli envoy named in Turkiye following years of tensions
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, declared that they would 'work together to create a new era in ties'
By News Desk - December 27 2022

(Photo credit: Times of Israel)

Israel’s new ambassador to Turkiye, Irit Lillian, handed over her credentials to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on 27 December, after four years of diplomatic tensions between Turkiye and Israel.

Lillian, appointed last September after the diplomatic crisis had been overcome, greeted the president in Turkish when she was received at the presidential palace, according to Anadolu Agency.

Previously, the diplomat served as chargé d’affaires in Ankara for the past two years, a position in which she played a key role in the rapprochement between Israel and Turkiye following numerous rifts in the relationship between the two countries.

After high-level visits in 2022, including Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s trip to Ankara, the relations improved. The decision to appoint ambassadors to Turkiye and Israel was taken in August.

Following Netanyahu’s election victory in Israel last month, he and his Turkish counterpart made a pact to “work together to create a new era in ties” based on respect for each other’s interests.

While diplomatic relations were restored in 2016, new issues emerged after Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during protests in 2018; Turkey responded to the acts of violence by recalling its ambassador from Israel, while expelling the Israeli envoy from Ankara.

Meanwhile, on 14 December, Istanbul police and the National Intelligence Organization (MIT)announced the arrest of 44 people suspected of leaking information about Palestinian expatriates in Turkiye to Mossad.

The operation targeted consulting companies which offered private investigation services via their contacts with the Israeli spy agency. The Israeli Mossad reportedly paid the suspects to monitor Palestinian individuals, institutions, and non-governmental organizations in Turkiye.

According to the testimony of those detained, their work helped the Israeli intelligence service to launch online defamation campaigns and threats against Palestinians.

In October 2021, Turkish security forces dismantled a spy network of 15 people working for Mossad. They were also assigned the task of collecting information about Palestinians in Turkiye.

Back in June, Israeli and Turkish intelligence agencies said they thwarted the “attempted kidnapping” of Israeli tourists in Istanbul by alleged Iranian agents.

Two months after the announcement, Ankara and Tel Aviv officially normalized ties and restored diplomatic relations.

However, mere days after the normalization was announced, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said this “will not weaken” Ankara’s support for Palestinians.


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