Türkiye has appointed a veteran diplomat to serve as the country’s first ambassador to Israel in four years. The presidential decree naming Sakir Ozkan Torunlar to the post came on Friday, according to Turkish media. Torunlar previously served as consul general in Jerusalem between 2010 and 2014.The two countries have not been on diplomatic speaking terms since May 2018, when Ankara recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv. The move came after dozens of Palestinian civilians were killed following the actions of the Israel Defense Forces during the Great March of Return border demonstration. Afterwards, Türkiye ordered Israeli Ambassador Eitan Naeh to leave the majority-Muslim country.
Israel responded by ordering the departure of Turkish Consul Husnu Gurcan Turkoglu, who oversaw Ankara’s relations with the Palestinian territories. Türkiye then expelled Israel’s consul general, Yossi Levi Safri, from Istanbul, and the two countries subjected each other’s envoys to excessive airport screenings and paper inspections. At the time, South Africa also recalled its Israeli ambassador, and several nations issued condemnatory statements – but the rupture in other countries’ diplomatic relations was brief. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been especially critical of Israeli politician Benjamin Netanyahu, calling him “the PM of an apartheid state that has occupied a defenseless people’s lands for 60+ years in violation of UN resolutions” during the 2018 diplomatic spat. However, Erdogan wrote to the newly-elected leader earlier this month, congratulating him on his political comeback.
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