Turkey and Israel are rebuilding ties to ambassador level: Turkish FM

Turkey and Israel have begun work restoring their mutual diplomatic representation to ambassador level, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday as the two countries seek an end to more than a decade of strained ties.

The countries expelled one another’s ambassadors in 2018 and have often traded barbs over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Energy has emerged as a key area for potential cooperation as they strive to mend relations.

Cavusoglu was speaking alongside his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid, who was visiting Ankara after months of thawing ties but nevertheless amid worries voiced by Israel that its citizens could yet come under attack by Iranian agents in the NATO-member country.

Cavusoglu said he and Lapid were in close contact regarding threats posed to Israeli citizens. Lapid thanked Turkey for its help in foiling an Iranian plot to harm Israelis in Istanbul and mentioned the effort was still underway.

Israel had warned its citizens about travelling to Turkey, calling to mind suspected assassination and abduction plots by Iran, which has vowed to avenge the May 22 assassination of a Revolutionary Guards colonel in Tehran which it blamed on Israeli agents.

Cavusoglu visited Israel last month to encourage expanding of economic cooperation in a first such visit by a senior Turkish official in 15 years.