President announces Kemal Ökem as Turkey’s new ambassador to Israel
ANKARAAmbassador Mekin Mustafa Kemal Ökem has been named Turkey’s new ambassador to Israel, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Nov. 16.
“He took up the position yesterday,” Erdoğan told reporters before he departed for Pakistan.
The Prime Ministry’s adviser on foreign affairs, Ökem was informed about his new post on Nov. 15, the same day Israel’s Foreign Ministry nominated Eithan Na’eh as its new ambassador to Turkey. Ökem had served as deputy director of the Directorate General of the Middle East and consultant to the foreign minister. He worked at Turkey’s embassies in London and Riyadh and was the permanent representative for NATO. He is an expert on international security and the Middle East.
Na’eh first needs to pass the Israeli government’s security committee in order to be formally appointed to Ankara. Na’eh, who is currently serving as the deputy head of the Israeli Embassy in London, is familiar with Turkey. He was appointed as first and second secretaries in Ankara in 1993.
Turkey and Israel are expected to simultaneously announce a mutual exchange of ambassadors as part of a normalization deal following the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident.
Diplomatic ties between Turkey and Israel were disrupted in May 2010 when Israeli commandos killed 10 Turkish activists on the Mavi Marmara, a ship bound for Gaza with humanitarian aid.
In the aftermath of the attack, Turkey demanded an official apology from Israel, compensation for the families of those killed and the lifting of Israel’s Gaza blockade.
In 2013, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced regret over the incident to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was Turkey’s prime minister at the time.
In addition to compensation, Israel has agreed to Turkey’s humanitarian presence in the Gaza Strip.
On Aug. 20, Turkey’s parliament approved a deal involving Tel Aviv paying $20 million to the families of the victims, a sum which was paid on Sept. 30.