Irit Lillian, the new Israeli ambassador to Turkey, presented her credentials to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday, filling a position that had been unfilled for four years.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid predicted that the decision would “help to building relationships between the two peoples, expanding economic, trade and cultural links, and promoting regional stability” when Jerusalem and Ankara announced the restoration of full diplomatic relations in August.
Lillian served as the Ankara embassy’s chargé d’affaires for the previous two years until being named ambassador in September.
She is the first person to fill the position since 2018 when the conflict between the IDF and Palestinians along the border with Turkey led to the expulsion of Israel’s envoy and the withdrawal of its ambassador from Jerusalem.
Following Erdogan’s ascent to power, once-warm ties quickly deteriorated.
Erdogan is a backer of Hamas and has been a vocal opponent of Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians.
After the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, nine Turkish nationals were killed after attacking Israeli Navy commandos boarding the ship, which an Islamist group thought was close to Erdogan and was attempting to break the blockade of Gaza, relations between the two countries reached their lowest point.
Sakir Ozkan Torunlar was appointed as Turkey’s ambassador to Israel in November.
Between 2010 and 2013, he was Ankara’s general consul in Jerusalem.