Ambassador Irit Lillian and Erdogan
Ambassador Irit Lillian and ErdoganTurkish Presidential Office

Israel's Ambassador to Turkey, Irit Lillian, on Tuesday presented her credentials to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, i24NEWS reported.

"It was an exciting occasion and fills the heart with hope,” said Lillian at the ceremony in Ankara, which included Israel’s national anthem, Hatikvah, played by a Turkish honor guard.

The Israeli envoy expressed hope that bilateral ties would continue to expand.

“We all expect that the process of growing closer diplomatically between Israel and Turkey will become stronger, broaden, and spread over many areas of cooperation,” she said in a video statement, adding, “Here it is customary to say Inshallah, and I hope that will indeed arise."

Lillian was appointed Israel's Ambassador to Turkey in September. She had previously served for two years as the charge d'affaires in the Israeli Embassy in Ankara. Lillian is the first to hold the position of Ambassador after four years in which no Israeli Ambassador was appointed to Turkey due to the ongoing conflict between the two countries.

The decision to appoint Lillian to the position of Ambassador followed an announcement that Turkey and Israel would normalize relations by returning the ambassadors and consuls.

While Israel and Turkey have diplomatic relations, those relations have been strained in recent years as Erdogan, who is a strong advocate of Palestinian Arab rights, has frequently criticized Israel.

The two countries signed a comprehensive reconciliation deal in 2016, ending a six-year diplomatic standoff following a violent encounter between Israeli soldiers and Islamist radicals on a ship attempting to break through the security blockade on Gaza.

Even since the signing of that agreement, the Turkish President has continued his verbal attacks on Israel.

After the recent Israeli election, however, Erdogan and Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone for 12 minutes.

During the conversation, Erdogan congratulated Netanyahu on his election victory. The two leaders concluded that they will cooperate in starting a new age in Israeli-Turkish relations.