(photo credit: TWITTER)
The Foreign Ministry’s appointments committee named veteran diplomat Eitan Na’eh as Israel’s next ambassador to Turkey, moving a renewal of full diplomatic ties between the two countries one step closer.
Once Na’eh’s appointment is approved by the cabinet, Israel and Turkey are expected to simultaneously announce the mutual exchange of ambassadors.
Kemal Okem, a foreign-policy adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is expected to be named Turkey’s envoy to Israel.
Turkey expelled Israel’s last ambassador to Turkey, Gabby Levy, in September 2011, more than a year after the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident poisoned ties between the two countries in May 2010. Levy’s expulsion came after a UN report concluded that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza was legal under international law and that Turkey did not do enough to keep the flotilla from sailing.
The report also said Israel used “excessive and unreasonable” force in stopping the flotilla.
Nine Turkish nationals were killed after IDF commandos faced violent resistance when they boarded the boat to keep it from reaching Gaza. Turkey immediately recalled its ambassador at the time.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Erdogan announced in June that the two countries had reached a reconciliation agreement.
Na’eh, 53, currently Israel’s deputy ambassador in London, has specialized on Turkish affairs during his diplomatic career, which began in 1991.
He served in Israel’s embassy in Ankara for a number of years in 1993, before going to Chicago in 1997 to served as deputy consul- general.
From 2001 to 2005, Na’eh served as ambassador to Azerbaijan, and he also has served as head of the Turkey, Greece and Cyprus desk in the Foreign Ministry, as well as in a senior position on the National Security Council.
Na’eh has been the deputy ambassador in London for more than two-and-a-half years, and was acting ambassador there during the time between September 2015 when Daniel Taub left the post and April 2016 when Mark Regev took over.