First Israeli ambassador to Turkey in six years starts work | News | DW | 05.12.2016
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First Israeli ambassador to Turkey in six years starts work

Israel has its first ambassador in Turkey since relations were severed following the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident. It comes as Turkey finds itself diplomatically isolated and facing multiple security threats.

Turkey on Monday received its first ambassador from Israel since the two countries broke off ties in 2010, completing a final step of a rapprochement between once close regional allies.

Eitan Naeh met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the sprawling presidential palace in Ankara, handing over his formal credentials and introducing staff. A video on the presidential website showed Erdogan, who has regularly lambasted Israel over the years, warmly shaking hands with the Israeli embassy staff.

Naeh is the country's first ambassador since Israeli commandos in 2010 raided the Mavi Marmara humanitarian ship trying to break a blockade of Gaza, killing nine Turkish citizens and one Turkish-American.

The incident set off a major feud between two powers that once had a close military-to-military relationship, rearranging the strategic and political landscape of the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean.

In the wake of the Mavi Marmara incident, the two countries severed ties and relations hit an all-time low.

After nearly two years of painstaking behind the scenes talks, the two sides reached an agreement in June to restore relations.

Under the terms of the agreement, Israel apologized for the raid and agreed to pay 18 million euros ($20 million) in compensation. Tel Aviv also agreed to allow Turkish humanitarian shipments into Gaza under the condition they first pass through an Israeli port for inspection.

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Turkey agreed to drop any legal proceedings against any Israeli citizen or anybody acting on behalf of the Israeli government for the raid. On Friday, Turkish prosecutors called for any charges against Israelis for the raid to be dropped, citing the deal. The next hearing is expected next week.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim's foreign policy advisor, Kemal Okem, is set to take up the ambassador role in Tel Aviv on December 12.

The rapproachement comes as Turkey finds itself increasingly isolated diplomatically in disputes with the European Union and faces multiple security threats on its southern border with Syria and Iraq.  

cw/se (AFP)

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