Turkey taps career diplomat as new ambassador to Israel – Al-Monitor

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« Turkey has named a veteran career diplomat as the new Turkish ambassador to Israel — a move that also reflects Ankara’s sensitivities to the Palestinian cause » reports Al-Monitor.

Ankara named veteran career diplomat Sakir Ozkan Torunlar as the new Turkish ambassador to Israel Thursday, moving to fill the position that has been vacant for nearly five years due a series of political rows between the two countries.

Torunlar, who was appointed to the post by a presidential decree, has been a career diplomat for nearly 40 years and has worked in several countries, including Greece, India and the United Kingdom.

The appointment of Torunlar also reflects the Turkish government’s sensitivities to the Palestinian conflict, as the diplomat also served as Turkey’s ambassador to Palestine in 2013 following the UN General Assembly vote granting Palestine “non-member state status” while he was Turkey’s consul general in Jerusalem.

During his tenure there, the diplomat was awarded the Star of Jerusalem Order by Palestine.

Torunlar, who speaks French and English, previously served as Turkey’s ambassador to India, Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal.

The move came after a series of swift rapprochement steps between the two countries after years of locking horns and as part of Ankara’s efforts to mend its ties with its former regional rivals, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. 

The first thaw in the deep freeze between Turkey and Israel came after a phone call between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Israeli counterpart, Isaac Herzog, which followed a state visit by the Israeli president to Turkey last year. The top Israeli and Turkish foreign ministers also paid reciprocal visits to each other’s countries. 

In addition to Israel, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also visited Ramallah as part of his trip in May.

In August, Erdogan and Israeli Premier Yair Lapid decided to fully restore diplomatic ties. In late September, Israel named Irit Lillian, the country’s charge d’affaires in Ankara since early 2021 and a career diplomat, as the new ambassador. 

Both ambassadors are now pending approval from their host capitals before submitting their credentials.

Al-Monitor, October 6, 2022, Photo/Baz Ratner/Reuters

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