Israeli ambassador credentialed in Turkey in restoration of ties

Azerbaijan to open embassy in Tel Aviv, first Shi'ite Muslim country to do so

The Israeli national anthem is sung as Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan received the credentials of Israel's ambassador to Turkey on Tuesday, December 27, 2022 (VIDEO Turkish Presidential Office)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan received the credentials of Israel's ambassador to Turkey on Tuesday in yet another sign that the two countries have fully restored diplomatic relations after four years of strained ties.

Irit Lillian, Israeli's charge d'affaires in Ankara since January 2021, was formally recognized in Turkey as Israel's ambassador after presenting her letter of confidence to Erdogan.

"It was an exciting occasion that fills the heart with hope," Lillian told reporters. "We all expect that the process of political rapprochement between Israel and Turkey will intensify, expand and extend to many areas of cooperation," she added.

Renewed cooperation

Such intense cooperation will benefit Israel, Turkey and the entire region, she said.

To celebrate the moment, Israel's national anthem HaTikva was played at Erdogan's presidential palace to mark the occasion.

 New Turkish Ambassador Sakir Ozkan Torunlar and Chief of Protocol Gil Haskel. (credit: FOREIGN MINISTRY) New Turkish Ambassador Sakir Ozkan Torunlar and Chief of Protocol Gil Haskel. (credit: FOREIGN MINISTRY)

Turkey’s new ambassador to Israel, Sakir Ozkan Torunlar, submitted his credentials to the Foreign Ministry earlier this month.

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu and Erdogan have spoken since the November 1 election and agreed to "work together to create a new era in relations" on a basis of respect for mutual interests.

Over a decade of strained relations

Once close regional allies, relations between Israel and Turkey have been strained for more than a decade, with Ankara having expelled Israel's ambassador following a 2010 Israeli raid on an aid ship to Gaza, during 10 Turkish citizens were killed.

Diplomatic relations were restored in 2016, but two years later Turkey recalled its ambassador from Israel and expelled the Israeli envoy to protest Israel shooting of Palestinian rioters along the Gaza border during the Hamas led Great March of return in 2018.

Turkey and Israel, have since repaired their ties, with President Isaac Herzog visiting Ankara in March of this year, the first such visit in 14 years.

Strengthening ties with the Muslim world

As part of Israel's strengthening of its ties with the Muslim world, Azerbaijan Deputy Foreign Minister Fariz Rzayev will arrive in Israel tomorrow for a two-day visit to mark the opening of his country's embassy in Tel Aviv.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog shake hands during a joint news conference in Ankara, Turkey March 9, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/STRINGER)Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog shake hands during a joint news conference in Ankara, Turkey March 9, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/STRINGER)

Israel was one of the first countries to recognize Azerbaijan's independence in 1991 and the two nations established diplomatic relations in 1992. Israel has an embassy in Baku, but Azerbaijan did not open a similar mission in Israel.

Azerbaijan's opening of its embassy in Tel Aviv will mark the first tie a country with a Shi'ite government and a majority Shi'ite Muslim population will have an embassy in the Jewish state.

The Foreign Ministry said the embassy opening will help both countries further develop their security and economic ties.