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Turkey, Israeli regime announce restoration of full diplomatic relations

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Israeli President Isaac Herzog (L) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shake hands at the presidential complex in Ankara, Turkey, on March 9, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

Turkey and Israel have announced the restoration of full diplomatic relations and to mutually reinstate ambassadors, marking the culmination of hectic efforts by the two sides to repair bilateral ties following years of tensions.

On Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters at a press conference that the move would mark what he called “a milestone” in efforts to normalize ties between his country and the Israeli regime.

“The steps we would take to normalize relations includes mutually reappointing of ambassadors. At the news conference we held with (Israeli Prime Minister Yair) Lapid in this hall, we made a statement that we started the work on the appointment of ambassadors,” he said, the official Anadolu news agency reported.

“As a result of these efforts, such a positive step came from Israel. Of course, we, as Turkey, have decided to appoint an ambassador to Israel, to Tel Aviv,” Cavusoglu said at a news conference with his Kyrgyz counterpart Jeenbek Kulubaev.

The process would begin after both sides presented the names of the ambassadors, he said.

Cavusoglu, however, said Ankara’s decision to restore diplomatic relations with Israel did not mean Turkey would abandon its support for the Palestinians.

“We are not giving up on the Palestinian cause. It is important for our messages to be conveyed directly through the ambassador (on the Palestinian issue).”

Earlier on Wednesday, the Israeli prime minister released a statement, announcing the "upgrading of relations" between the two sides.

“It was decided to once again upgrade the level of the relations between” Israel and Turkey “to that of full diplomatic ties and to return ambassadors and consuls general from” the two sides, he said

Lapid said “renewing relations with Turkey is an important asset for regional stability and very important economic news for” Israelis.

“Upgrading relations will contribute to deepening ties between” the two sides, “expanding economic, trade, and cultural ties, and strengthening regional stability,” the Israeli prime minister said in his statement, issued following a telephone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Back in March, Israeli President Isaac Herzog paid a visit to Turkey and met with Erdogan. The visit purportedly helped soothe the strained relations after more than a decade of tensions. The trip was followed by visits by foreign ministers.

Earlier, Erdogan told a gathering of ambassadors in Ankara that resuming full relations with the Israeli regime would “allow us to help our Palestinian brothers.”

Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador in 2018 over the killing of 60 Palestinians by Israeli forces during protests on the border separating the besieged Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories against the opening of the US Embassy in al-Quds. 

Erdogan at the time condemned Israel for carrying out “genocide” and behaving like a “terrorist” regime. While the Turkish government declared three-day national mourning over the carnage, Tel Aviv expelled the Turkish ambassador in a tit-for-tat move.

In late May 2010, diplomatic relations between Ankara and Tel Aviv significantly deteriorated when Israeli commandoes boarded, deploying from helicopters, the humanitarian Mavi-Marmara flotilla, and killed ten Turkish citizens. 

The convoy, composed of six civilian ships, carried 663 people from 37 nations, mostly pro-Palestinian activists. The ships, one of whom was flying a Turkish flag, were also carrying humanitarian aid and construction materials. The mission was to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Israel's YNet news website on Tuesday reported that a day earlier, a senior Israeli official had predicted, in an interview with the website, that Israeli airlines would be granted permission to fly into Istanbul in a matter of weeks.

The official said the move would come after the signing of a new mutual aviation agreement between Ankara and Tel Aviv last month. The parties, he said, were now finalizing the details that would allow Israeli airlines to fly to Turkey while meeting Israel’s stringent security requirements.

Earlier in August, Israel also reopened its economic office in Turkey after three years of closure.

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