After Five Years, Erdogan Names New Turkish Ambassador to Israel

Erdogan names Kemal Okem to the post, one day after Israel named Eitan Na'eh to the parallel position in Ankara.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, November 11, 2016.
Vasily Fedosenko, Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the appointment of Kemal Okem to the position of Turkish Ambassador to Israel. In recent years, Okem served as one of Erdogan's top foreign policy advisers.

Erdogan announced Okem's appointment on Wednesday at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport, shortly before leaving to visit Pakistan and Uzbekistan.

Erodgan's statement comes a day after Israel appointed Eitan Na'eh to serve as Israel's ambassador to Turkey.

In September 2011, Turkey recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv and expelled the Israeli ambassador. This came after a UN secretary-general’s committee found that Israel’s blockade of Gaza did not violate international law and thus Israel had the right to stop the Gaza-bound flotilla that had sailed from Turkey in May 2010.

After the two sides signed a reconciliation agreement this year, Israel paid $20 million into a fund set up by Ankara from which compensation will be paid to the families of the Turkish nationals killed when Israel raided the ship the Mavi Marmara. Turkey ratified the agreement with a parliamentary vote that made the agreement law.

Turkey’s Justice Ministry has already told a court in Ankara that the state wants all lawsuits against Israeli soldiers who raided the Marmara closed. The court is expected to rule on the matter within weeks.