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Turkish ambassador presents credentials to Israeli President Herzog

Israeli President Isaac Herzog receives the credentials of the Turkish ambassador, Şakir Özkan Torunlar (Photo: Haim Zach/GPO)

For the first time in over four years, a Turkish ambassador presented credentials to the Israeli president. 

Ambassador Şakir Özkan Torunlar arrived in Israel in November but officially presented his credentials to President Isaac Herzog on Wednesday at the President’s Residence. 

To herald Torunlar’s arrival to the residence, the Israeli Defense Forces band played the Turkish national anthem and raised the Turkish flag. Afterwards, Torunlar entered the president’s home and presented his letter of credence to President Herzog. 

In his welcoming speech, the president referred to his visit to Turkey last March, and his welcome by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Herzog described hearing the Israeli national anthem play while Israel’s flag flew overhead, and said he hoped the Turkish ambassador was similarly moved by seeing his own flag flying in Israel and hearing his own national anthem. 

“It is no secret that the State of Israel attaches great importance to our historic relationship with Türkiye, as do I personally. It is a relationship that has known crises in the past but is now, to our delight, on a very encouraging trajectory,” Herzog said. Before Torunlar’s appointment, Turkey had no official ambassador to Israel for over four years. 

Herzog spoke of his desire to “deepen and broaden our collaboration in many diverse fields, including tourism, academia, energy, science, culture, agriculture and so much more, so that they may bring value to our citizens, and no less importantly – to our region.” 

The president emphasized that the relationship between Turkey and Israel predates the modern State of Israel and extended an invitation to the Turkish president to visit Israel. 

In September, Erdoğan told a group of American Jewish leaders that he intends to visit Israel. However, Erdoğan also called Israel a “terrorist state” as recently as 2021. 

Erdoğan has also been very friendly towards Hamas, the terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip and wages repeat rocket campaigns against the Jewish state, but also towards Iran.

In a departure from precedent, Torunlar spoke at the ceremony, emphasizing the importance of preserving the status quo of the Temple Mount. The Turkish ambassador also expressed a desire for bilateral trade to grow between the two countries.

In the guestbook at the President’s Residence, the ambassador wrote: “I believe that the already existing friendly relations between our two countries will further develop during my tenure of office.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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