Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan received the credentials of Israel’s new ambassador to Turkey on Tuesday, as the two countries normalize ties after four years of strain.
Turkey and Israel began improving relations with high-level visits this year including Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Ankara. They agreed to appoint ambassadors mutually in August.
After Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu won elections last month, he and Erdogan agreed to “work together to create a new era in relations” on a basis of respect for mutual interests.
Irit Lillian, Israeli’s charge d’affaires in Ankara since January 2021, became ambassador after presenting his letter of confidence to Erdogan.
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, which killed 10 Turkish citizens.
Diplomatic relations were restored in 2016, but two years later Turkey recalled its ambassador from Israel and expelled the Israeli envoy when Israeli forces killed a number of Palestinians who had taken part in protests in the Gaza Strip.
Already facing criticism on policy before taking office, Netanyahu has vowed to govern for all Israelis even as he will head one of the most right-wing governments in the country’s history.