Turkey, Israel to launch efforts for appointing ambassadors

Turkey and Israel have begun efforts to raise mutual diplomatic relations to the ambassador’s level, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Thursday, during a visit by his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid.

Lapid arrived in Ankara on Thursday as part of ongoing efforts between the two countries to repair ties after a decade of tensions. The Israeli official’s visit marks the first foreign minister-level visit from Israel to Turkey in 16 years and follows Çavuşoğlu's visit to Israel last month.

Turkey and Israel will “continue mutual visits and political negotiations at various levels,” Arti Gerçek news site cited Çavuşoğlu as saying at a joint press conference with Lapid.

Lapid addressed the ongoing diplomatic reconciliation between Turkey and Israel, saying that the two countries were holding discussions to return their ambassadors to their embassies in each country soon and to improve economic and political dialogue, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Israel and Turkey have not exchanged ambassadors since a falling out in May 2018 over the killing of dozens of Palestinian protesters by Israeli forces amid the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

The Israeli foreign minister on Thursday  thanked Turkey for helping thwart Iranian attempts to attack Israelis in the country, according to the Jerusalem Post.

"I want to thank all the Turkish and Israeli officials - at the Foreign Ministry, the intelligence and security forces, and the National Security Council - who have handled this matter in recent weeks,’’ it cited Lapid as saying.

Israel last month issued a travel warning for its nationals to Turkey, citing  Iranian attempts to harm Israeli travellers in the country as revenge for the assassination of a senior officer in the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

Turkey and Israel are making tentative steps to mend relations fractured for more than a decade, over Turkey’s condemnation of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, Turkish support for Hamas and disputes over natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean.  

Israeli President Isaac Herzog met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara last month. It was the first visit by an Israeli head of state since 2007. The two leaders expressed their willingness to improve relations based on mutual respect.

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