Israel's new ambassador to Turkey presents credentials

Eitan Naeh, Israel's first ambassador to Turkey since 2010, presents credentials to President Erdogan.

Ben Ariel ,

Turkish flag
Turkish flag

Israel's first ambassador to Turkey since 2010, Eitan Naeh, presented his credentials to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, completing a critical step in the normalization of relations between the countries, AFP reports.

Naeh, who arrived in Turkey late last week, was received by Erdogan at the presidential palace in Ankara, handing over his formal credentials and introducing his staff, a video shared on the Turkish president's website showed.

The video showed Erdogan greeting the new envoy warmly and sharing a few words.

Naeh is Israel’s first envoy to Turkey since the two countries cut off relations in 2010 following the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident.

The career diplomat previously worked in Ankara between 1993 and 1997 and was serving as deputy head of mission at the Israeli embassy in London before being chosen for the new role.

The Mavi Marmara incident occurred when IDF soldiers boarded the ship after the Islamists on board, who claimed they were carrying humanitarian aid for Gaza, refused to reverse course and dock at the Ashdod Port.

As soon as they boarded the ship, the soldiers were attacked by the Islamists with clubs and knives, forcing the troops to open fire and killing 10 of those on board.

Upon inspection it was discovered that there was no humanitarian aid whatsoever aboard the Marmara.

After the raid Turkey angrily cut off ties with Israel, but the two announced a reconciliation agreement in June, as part of which Israel paid $20 million in compensation to Turkey for the Marmara incident.

Last month, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim's foreign policy advisor Kemal Okem was chosen as Ankara's ambassador to Israel.

Okem will start work on December 12, state-run news agency Anadolu said last week, marking the very final step in the diplomatic reconciliation.

Despite the reconciliation deal, Erdogan refused to tone down his anti-Israel rhetoric in an interview with Israeli journalist Ilana Dayan two weeks ago, even as he called for a “new page” in Israel-Turkey relations.

In the interview, Erdogan refused to take back his past verbal attacks against Israel, including a statement that Israel’s attacks against terrorist targets in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge were more barbaric than Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s actions.

Nevertheless, Erdogan and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin held a phone call last week, during which Rivlin thanked Erdogan for his country’s assistance in fighting the recent fires in Israel.