Israel and Turkey Restore Full Diplomatic Ties

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Photo by Haim Zach/GPO on 9 March, 2022
 By Gil Tanenbaum/TPS • 17 August, 2022

Jerusalem, 17 August, 2022 (TPS) — Following a conversation between Prime Minister of Israel Yair Lapid and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, Israel and Türkiye (Turkey) have restored full diplomatic relations between the 2 countries.

The official change in relations between the 2 nations came during a discussion held Tuesday night between Israel Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz and Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal.

The countries will now once again send ambassadors and consuls general to one another.

Relations between Israel and Turkey had been strained for more than a decade, in part, because the Israeli Navy boarded the Turkish-flagged ship Mavi Marmara when it attempted to violate Israel’s blockade of Gaza in 2010. The vessel was part of a convoy that was attempting to generate anti-Israel propaganda at the time. When Israeli sailors boarded the ship they were attacked by its passengers and several people were killed.

Most recently, the Hamas terrorist organization has been operating a major center for its operations in Istanbul. The Hamas offices there have even reportedly been coordinating activities in the areas of the Palestinian Authority as well as Jerusalem.

The restoration of diplomatic ties, however, comes after an extended period in which a number of diplomatic breakthroughs were made between the 2 nations.

For example, in June Prime Minister Lapid made an official state visit to Turkey where he met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlot Çavu?o?lu and President Erdo?an. That trip itself marked a significant breakthrough in Israel-Turkish ties as it was the first such visit by an Israeli prime minister since 2008.

It came after a March state visit to Turkey made by Israel’s President Isaac Herzog, which was the first such visit by an Israeli leader to the country in 14 years.

Then in July, it was announced that Israel’s economic office in Istanbul would renew its activities, 3 years after they were suspended.

Also in July, Israel and Turkey signed a new bilateral aviation agreement, the first since 1951, which allowed for the resumption of Israeli airlines’ flights to Turkey. There are now direct flights to Turkey that fly from Israel’s new Ramon Airport, near Eilat. And earlier this month, Israel announced that Arabs living in the Palestinian Authority (PA) territories will be able to fly to Turkey from that airport.

However, in possibly the biggest sign that the 2 nations had renewed the close relations that they had traditionally enjoyed in the past, in July Israel and Turkey worked together to thwart an Iranian-backed plot to kidnap Israeli citizens vacationing in Turkey. Even during the period of strained relations, the nations enjoyed a strong trade relationship and Turkey continued to be a popular destination for Israeli tourists.

For several weeks in July Israelis were warned not to travel there and the ones already in the country were encouraged by their government to leave the country.

It was reported at the time that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) arrested an eight-man cell that was working on behalf of the Iranian secret service to target Israelis in the country. And this came after numerous reports on how Israeli and Turkish authorities working in cooperation have foiled a number of plots by Iranian agents to kidnap or murder Israelis in Turkey.

Once the danger passed, Israel’s government removed the travel warning.

On the full restoration of diplomacy, Yair Lapid stated, “The resumption of relations with Türkiye is an important asset for regional stability and very important economic news for the citizens of Israel. We will continue to strengthen Israel’s standing in the world.”

Lapid also said that the upgrading of relations will contribute to deepening ties between the two peoples, expanding economic, trade, and cultural ties, and strengthening regional stability.

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