Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has appointed a foreign policy advisor to the prime minister as ambassador to Israel, sealing the normalization of diplomatic relations after a partial rupture in 2010.
The appointment reciprocated a move by the Israelis a day earlier.
The deadly 2010 storming by Israeli commandos of a Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, which was trying to break the naval blockade of Hamas-run Gaza, prompted Ankara to expel the Israeli envoy and cease all military cooperation with Israel.
Israel and Turkey agreed in June to normalize ties after the Jewish state offered an apology over the raid, a payout of $20 million in compensation to the families of those killed on the vessel, and permission for Turkish aid to reach Gaza through Israeli ports.
The raid killed 10 Turkish pro-Palestinian activists, plunging relations to an all-time low with Erdogan on one occasion even accusing Israel of “keeping Hitler’s spirit alive”.
But Erdogan said Wednesday: “We are appointing our Prime Minister’s (Binali Yildirim) foreign affairs advisor Mr. Kemal Okem as ambassador (to Israel).”
“I believe he started office yesterday (Tuesday),” he added, before leaving on a trip to Pakistan.
Israel also nominated a new ambassador to Turkey on Tuesday, with Eitan Naeh formally selected by an Israeli government committee.
Naeh, who is currently deputy ambassador in London, had previously served in Turkey.
Contacted by Agence France Presse, an official for the Israeli embassy in Ankara said the new Israeli envoy has not yet started but he is expected to take up office soon once the approval process is finalized.
The two sides are already working to bring cooperation back to former levels and are holding talks for building an ambitious project for a pipeline to pump Israeli gas to Turkey and Europe.
The state-run Anadolu news agency said on Tuesday that Israeli and Turkish energy officials held their first working meeting on the project last week.