Israel appoints Irit Lillian as new ambassador to Turkey

She is the first senior Israeli diplomat to hold a role in Ankara since 2018, after a series of disputes

Irit Lillian, who has been in charge of the Israeli embassy in Ankara for the past two years, has been appointed to the role, Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced late on Monday. Facebook
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Israel has appointed a new ambassador to Turkey after a decade-long rift as the two states continue to restore full diplomatic ties.

Irit Lillian, who has been in charge of the Israeli embassy in Ankara for the past two years, will take up the role, Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced late on Monday.

Ms Lillian is the first person to hold a senior diplomatic role in the embassy since 2018, when Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Israel and Israel withdrew its ambassador in Ankara.

The move by Turkey was in protest against the killing of dozens of Palestinians by Israeli gunfire in protests along the Gaza border.

After the appointment of Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan as prime minister in 2003, relations between the two started to deteriorate as Mr Erdogan is known to be an outspoken critic of Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

In response, Israel has objected to Turkey’s support for the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

Tension peaked in 2010 when the two countries first withdrew their envoys and Israeli forces stormed a Turkish ship that broke through an Israeli blockade to deliver humanitarian aid to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The incident resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists. But between rocky periods in the relations of both countries, there have been attempts to make amends. In 2016, diplomatic relations were restored after discussions between former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mr Erdogan.

Ties were cut once again in 2018, after the US embassy opened in Jerusalem and former US president Donald Trump said Washington would recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In 2020, Turkey reappointed an ambassador to Israel but full relations were not restored.

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog visited Turkey in March and met Mr Erdogan in a step towards rapprochement.

Last month, Israel and Turkey announced they had agreed to restore full diplomatic ties and would return their ambassadors.

Despite the warming of relations, Ankara has said it will continue to support the Palestinians.

Updated: September 20, 2022, 9:47 AM
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