Israel appoints first ambassador to Turkey since 2018 amid improving ties

Israel on Monday appointed its first ambassador to Turkey since 2018 as the two countries work to mend ties following a decade of tensions.

Irit Lillian, a senior diplomat who has played a key role in Israel-Turkey rapproachment, has been appointed to serve as the next ambassador to Turkey, the Times of Israel reported, citing the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Lillian has been serving as Israel’s charge d’affaires in Ankara since February of last year, the Times of Israel said, over which the two countries have been taking tentative steps to mend ties and restore full diplomatic relations.

The two regional powers had expelled ambassadors in 2018 and last month announced that they would reinstate full diplomatic relations and reappoint ambassadors after a gradual months-long period of improvement in relations.

Diplomatic ties between Turkey and Israel have been strained for a decade due to Turkish support for Hamas, its criticism of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and differences over energy policy in the eastern Mediterranean.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog paid a visit to Turkey in March, kickstarting an improvement in relations. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu visited Israel in May. In July, Herzog called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to mark an annual Islamic holiday.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid is slated to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the sidelines of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly in New York later this week, the Jerusalem Post reported.

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