New Israeli ambassador to Turkey set to happen soon

The reappointment of an Israeli ambassador to Turkey could happen within weeks, the Israeli charge d’affaires in Ankara said Friday.

“We hope the appointment will take place in a week or two,” Irit Lillian, Israel’s current top diplomat in Turkey, told reporters.

Lillian said Israel will never give up on the natural gas pipeline project in the Eastern Mediterranean but his country “shares views on energy with Turkey.”

She reiterated that Israel is expecting the Hamas office in Istanbul to be closed, saying closing the office will make a positive contribution to Turkey-Israel relations.

The Turkish government has warm relations with Hamas, the ruling faction of the Israel-blockaded Gaza Strip. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and the Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh had a phone conversation on Aug. 8.

Last week, Turkey and Israel announced that they would reappoint ambassadors, four years after they expelled each other’s envoy when Israeli forces killed 60 Palestinians during their protests against the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

Turkey and Israel have been working to mend their ties in the past months, including Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Turkey in March, the first of its kind by a senior Israeli official since 2008, and their talks on pipelining natural gas from Israel to Europe via Turkey. ■

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