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Israel and Turkey announced that they have renewed normalization of relations, following a conversation between Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The agreement was finalized by Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz and Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal after the two officials spoke on the phone on Tuesday, The Jerusalem Post reported. Lapid tweeted an announcement of the renewed relations, noting that it includes the return of ambassadors and will be good for the Middle East as a whole.
“This will contribute not only to deepening our bilateral ties, but to strengthening regional stability,” Lapid said.
Turkey had downgraded relations in 2011 following years of tension related to Israel’s conflicts with Palestinians in Gaza. The country recalled its ambassador in 2018 after the U.S. opened an embassy in Jerusalem.
The two countries had been improving ties of late, and the Israeli prime minister’s office called the returning of ambassadors “the continuation of the positive trend in developing relations in the past year, since President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Ankara, and the mutual visits of the foreign ministers in Jerusalem and Ankara.”
Herzog said that “partnership and being good neighbors in the Eastern Mediterranean is important to all of us,” and that people “of all religions, Muslims, Jews and Christians, can and must live [together] peacefully.”
Herzog had met with Erdogan in Turkey in March. In May, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu went to Jerusalem, and Lapid went to Ankara in June.
Cavusoglu said his country resumed talks with Israel after the Jewish state seated its new government.
“The appointment of ambassadors was among the steps we said we would take to normalize relations,” he said.
Israeli-Turkish relations hit a low point following a 2010 incident in which Israeli forces boarded a Turkish ship approaching Gaza, looking to break an Israeli blockade. Nine armed activists were killed in the struggle.
With Wednesday’s announcement, Erdogan maintained that his stance regarding Palestinians has not changed, stating, “We will continue to defend the rights of Palestine, Jerusalem and Gaza.”
Israel and Gaza agreed to a cease-fire earlier this month following a series of deadly clashes that included targeted strikes against leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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