| 25 February 2024, Sunday |

Israeli diplomat in Turkey expects ambassador appointment “within weeks”

The Israeli charge d’affaires in Turkey indicated on Friday that a new ambassador to Ankara might be appointed within weeks, while underlining Israel’s expectation that the Hamas office in Istanbul be closed down.

Irit Lillian, Israel’s current senior official in Ankara, told media during a roundtable gathering that re-appointing an ambassador to Turkey was a matter of “when, not if.”

“It’s only because of elections in Israel that things might be delayed on the Israeli side but I hope it will be on time and it will be just a few more weeks and the process will be over,” Lillian said.

Israel will hold a general election on Nov. 1.

Earlier this month, Turkey and Israel agreed to re-appoint respective ambassadors more than four years after they were called back, marking another milestone after months of improved relations.

In 2018, the two regional powers removed their ambassadors in response to Israeli forces murdering 60 Palestinians during protests on the Gaza border over the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

However, they have been seeking to repair long-strained relations, with energy emerging as a significant area for future collaboration.

Lillian emphasized the difficulties in the relationship, stating that the establishment of a Hamas office in Istanbul was the most significant impediment to the “good tendency shown during the year.”

After more than a decade of hostility, Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Turkey in March, followed by visits by both foreign ministries.

Earlier this month, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid spoke by phone, expressing their happiness with the improvement of relations and congratulating each other on the decision to select ambassadors.

Erdogan stated that the required measures to designate the ambassador will be taken as quickly as possible, while Lapid stated that the strengthened links would lead to commercial and tourism successes.

  • Reuters