Israel confirms first Turkish envoy since 2010

AFP , Monday 12 Dec 2016

Rivlin & Okem
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin shakes hands with Turkish ambassador to Israel Kemal Okem during a diplomatic credentials presenting ceremony at Rivlin's official residence in Jerusalem December 12, 2016 (Photo: AFP)

Turkey's first ambassador to Israel since 2010 presented his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin on Monday, finalising a resumption of relations after a six-year diplomatic rift.

Mekin Okem was received by Rivlin during a ceremony at his residence in Jerusalem, the president's office said, with the Israeli president offering condolences for the twin bomb attacks that killed 44 people in Istanbul on Saturday.

Rivlin said he hoped the exchange of ambassadors "will open a new and promising page" in the relationship between the two countries.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan received new Israeli ambassador Eitan Naeh last week.

Okem is his country's first envoy since Israeli commandos raided a Gaza-bound ship of activists in 2010, sparking an unprecedented feud between the one-time key allies.

In the aftermath of the raid which killed 10 Turkish activists, the two countries pulled their envoys out from the respective capitals as relations fell to an all-time low.

The rift came to an end in June after long-running secret talks in third countries.

Israel paid $20 million (18 million euros) in compensation in September and offered an apology over the raid, as well as granting Turkey permission to send aid to Gaza.

At the Monday ceremony, Okem said he hoped Israeli-Turkish "cooperation will also work for the benefit of other nations, particularly to the Palestinian Authority".

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