New Israel envoy to Turkey presents credentials to Erdogan

The newly appointed Turkish Ambassador to Israel, Kemal Okem, is expected to take up his duties in Tel Aviv next week.

December 5, 2016 21:28
1 minute read.
Israel and Turkey flags

Israel and Turkey flags. (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)

“Hatikvah” played in Turkey’s presidential palace on Monday as Israel’s ambassador to Ankara, Eitan Na’eh, presented his credentials to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan just days after he arrived in Turkey as Israel’s first ambassador there in five years.

Na’eh, in an interview with Israel Radio, said Erdogan greeted him and his family warmly. “It was a good feeling,” said the veteran diplomat who has served previously as Israel’s ambassador in Azerbaijan, and deputy ambassador in London.

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Ankara recalled its ambassador from Israel immediately after the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010, and expelled Gabby Levy, Israel’s last ambassador to Turkey, in 2011.

Asked if the Mavi Marmara crisis was now behind the two countries, Na’eh said, “I think that to a large extent it certainly is. The president said during our meeting that ‘we have turned a new page in our ties.’” Na’eh said that the two countries will now build on the relations that existed in the past, and work to identify opportunities in the future. “Even when the ties knew peaks and valleys, the economic and trade relations were almost not hurt at all.
Israel's new ambassador to Turkey arrives in Ankara

Businessmen continued to do business [and] we are seeing an increase in the number of Israeli tourists,” he said.

He also said there has already been an increase in official delegations visiting between the two countries.

Regarding a possible meeting between Erdogan and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Na’eh counseled against “putting the roof up before laying the foundations and putting up the walls.

“The foundations are in place, we will build the walls, and then continue,” he said.

“We will build the relations, continue the cooperation that already exists, identify areas of cooperation where we will want to cooperate – everything step after step.”

The newly appointed Turkish Ambassador to Israel, Kemal Okem, is expected to take up his duties in Tel Aviv next week.

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