BY DAILY SABAH
Türkiye and Israel will mutually reappoint ambassadors, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Wednesday, marking a milestone in the two countries’ efforts to normalize ties.
“The steps we would take to normalize relations include mutually reappointing of ambassadors. At the news conference we held with (Israeli Prime Minister Yair) Lapid in this hall, we made a statement that we started the work on the appointment of ambassadors.
“As a result of these efforts, such a positive step came from Israel. Of course, we, as Türkiye, have decided to appoint an ambassador to Israel, to Tel Aviv,” Çavuşoğlu told a news conference with his Kyrgyz counterpart Jeenbek Kulubaev.
The top diplomat said the process will begin after both the countries present the names of the ambassadors.
He also said that the decision to restore full diplomatic relations with Israel after a decade of tensions did not mean that Türkiye would abandon its support for Palestinians.
“We are not giving up on the Palestinian cause,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters. “It is important for our messages to be conveyed directly through the ambassador (on the Palestinian issue).”
In May, Çavuşoğlu visited Israel, a first by a Turkish foreign minister in 15 years.
Israel and Türkiye have decided to restore full diplomatic ties and will send ambassadors to each other’s country following a steady improvement in relations, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office also said on Wednesday.
“Upgrading relations will contribute to deepening ties between the two peoples, expanding economic, trade, and cultural ties, and strengthening regional stability,” said a statement issued following a conversation between Lapid and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The two countries expelled ambassadors in 2018 over the killing of 60 Palestinians by Israeli forces during protests on the Gaza border against the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
A visit to Türkiye by Israeli President Isaac Herzog in March, followed by visits by both foreign ministers, helped warm relations after more than a decade of tensions.
“It was decided to once again upgrade the level of the relations between the two countries to that of full diplomatic ties and to return ambassadors and consuls general from the two countries,” the statement said.
The prime minister hailed the diplomatic breakthrough as an “important asset for regional stability and very important economic news for the citizens of Israel.”
The move, which comes as Israel has sought to improve ties with regional powers, was agreed two years after the so-called Abraham Accords which saw relations normalized between Israel, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Morocco.
The announcement follows months of bilateral efforts to mend ties that began to fray in 2008, following an Israeli military operation in Gaza.
Relations then froze after the deaths of 10 civilians following an Israeli raid on the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship, part of a flotilla trying to breach a blockade by carrying aid into Gaza in 2010.
A 2016 reconciliation agreement that saw the return of ambassadors all but collapsed in 2018-2019, when more than 200 Gazans were shot dead by Israeli forces during border protests.
During a landmark visit by Israeli President Herzog to Ankara in March, Erdoğan proclaimed the meeting marked “a turning point in our relations.”