Turkey names former Jerusalem envoy as new ambassador to Israel

Relations between Turkey and Israel have been rocky since 2011 when Ankara expelled Israel's ambassador following a 2010 Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara aid ship to Gaza.

A Turkish flag flutters atop the Turkish embassy as an Israeli flag is seen nearby, in Tel Aviv, Israel June 26, 2016 (photo credit: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER)
A Turkish flag flutters atop the Turkish embassy as an Israeli flag is seen nearby, in Tel Aviv, Israel June 26, 2016
(photo credit: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER)

Turkey appointed Sakir Ozkan Torunlar as its new ambassador to Israel late on Wednesday following a mutual decision taken last month to restore full diplomatic ties, two Turkish foreign ministry officials said.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu briefed Torunlar on Wednesday night as part of the ministry's new appointments abroad, the officials told Reuters.

A career diplomat with decades of experience, Torunlar was Turkish Consul General in Jerusalem from 2010 until 2013.

Israel has already named Irit Lillian as its next ambassador to Ankara.

Relations between Turkey and Israel have been rocky since 2011 when Ankara expelled Israel's ambassador following a 2010 Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara aid ship to Gaza, which killed nine Turkish citizens.

Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, carrying pro-Palestinian activists to take part of a humanitarian convoy, leaves from Sarayburnu port in Istanbul, Turkey May 22, 2010.  (credit: REUTERS)Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, carrying pro-Palestinian activists to take part of a humanitarian convoy, leaves from Sarayburnu port in Istanbul, Turkey May 22, 2010. (credit: REUTERS)

The rift healed when full diplomatic relations were restored in 2016 and the two countries exchanged ambassadors.

Tensions escalated again in 2018 when Israeli forces killed a number of Palestinians who had taken part in the "March of Return" protests in the Gaza Strip.

Turkey recalled all diplomats and ordered Israeli envoys to leave the country.

The latest developments come five months after Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Ankara as part of his first visit to Turkey by an Israeli leader since 2008.