New Israeli ambassador arrives in Turkey amid improving ties

The reconciliation deal between Israel and Turkey moved to the next and final phase as Israel’s new ambassador to Ankara arrived at his post. 

Israel’s new ambassador to Turkey has arrived in Ankara as the two countries seek to mend relations that soured after the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010, leading to a six-year rift between the former allies.

Eitan Naeh arrived Thursday morning in the Turkish capital as part of a reconciliation deal clinched in June.

Naeh, quoted by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency, noted that Turkey and Israel “have a history of helping each other in times of need.” Turkey was among the nations to offer assistance to Israel in battling a series of wildfires and arsons that raged across the country last month.

Israeli-Turkish ties declined after now-President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose party has roots in Turkey’s Islamist movement, became prime minister in 2003.

Relations imploded in 2010 after a confrontation between Israeli commandos and a Turkish flotilla trying to breach the blockade of Gaza.

The Mavi Marmara was part of a flotilla of Turkish vessels traveling to Gaza, ostensibly to deliver humanitarian aid and medical supplies, but in reality it was an attempt to defy Israel’s sovereignty and was meant to support the Palestinian Hamas terror organization, which rules Gaza.

The only humanitarian aid found on board were boxes of expired medications.

IDF forces boarded the ship and were viciously assaulted. They killed 10 Turkish nationals while defending themselves, and several IDF soldiers suffered wounds as well.

After the raid, the countries withdrew their ambassadors, largely cut security ties and have since maintained only low-level diplomatic relations.

Israel will pay $20 million in compensation for the families of people harmed in the raid, and is allowing Turkey to deliver aid to Gaza through an Israeli port and to carry out a series of development projects in Gaza, particularly with regard to water and electricity. Israel has already enabled this, regardless of the new agreement.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff