TEL AVIV (Sputnik) – Turkey’s new ambassador to Israel Kemal Okem presented credentials to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at an official ceremony marking his assumption of the office.
“It is an honor for me to take up the position as Turkish ambassador to Israel starting today. I will do my best to advance our relations in all spheres despite possible difficulties. We will overcome them with our Israeli partners and friends,” Okem said at the residence of Israeli president in Jerusalem.
Rivlin expressed hope that Turkey and Israel would open a new page in bilateral relations following the appointment of new ambassadors.
“Our friendship has deep historical roots. I hope that reconciliation and appointment of a new ambassador will open a new ambitious page in our relations,” Rivlin said.
On December 5, Israel’s Ambassador to Turkey Eitan Naeh presented his credentials to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Relations between Israel and Turkey deteriorated after the Freedom Flotilla incident in 2010, when a convoy of six ships, including one under Turkey’s flag, tried to approach the Gaza Strip with humanitarian aid and activists on board. The flotilla was blocked and stormed by Israeli forces, resulting in nine Turkish citizens being killed.
In June, Israel and Turkey signed a deal to restore ties. Israel also made a formal apology for the raid, paid Turkey $20 million in compensation for it and agreed to ease the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
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