Ties on the mend, Israel names new ambassador to Turkey
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Ties on the mend, Israel names new ambassador to Turkey

Appointment of Eitan Na’eh final step in restoring bilateral relations after 2010 Gaza flotilla fiasco

Israel's ambassador to Turkey Eitan Na'eh, whose appointment was announced on November 15, 2016.  (courtesy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Israel's ambassador to Turkey Eitan Na'eh, whose appointment was announced on November 15, 2016. (courtesy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

The Foreign Ministry on Tuesday appointed veteran diplomat Eitan Na’eh Israel’s new ambassador to Turkey, the first envoy in Ankara since diplomatic relations were downgraded in 2011, concluding a restoration of bilateral ties inked earlier this year.

Na’eh’s appointment mirrors Turkey’s announcement in October that Ambassador Kemal Okem would represent Ankara in Tel Aviv. Now that Israel has announced its choice, Okem’s appointment will be officially confirmed.

The two appointments formed part of a bilateral agreement signed in the summer to end the breakdown in relations sparked by the killing by Israeli forces of nine Turks and one Turkish-American in a melee aboard the Mavi Marmara ship in 2010, when Israeli commandos were met with violent resistance from a mob, some of whom were wielding knives and clubs. The ship was sailing toward Gaza to break an Israeli and Egyptian blockade of the Hamas-run territory, imposed to prevent Hamas importing weaponry, and was commandeered after it refused to turn back.

Born in the northern city of Haifa, Na’eh joined the Foreign Ministry in 1991.

Throughout his career, he specialized in Turkish affairs, a Foreign Ministry statement said, and was posted to Ankara in 1993 where he served as second, and later, as first secretary.

The Mavi Marmara being tugged out of Haifa harbor long after the raid (photo credit: Herzl Shapira/Flash 90)
The Mavi Marmara is tugged out of Haifa harbor long after the raid (photo credit: Herzl Shapira/Flash 90)

From 1997 to 1999, he served as deputy consul general for press and information at the Israeli Consulate in Chicago and later served as head of the Turkish, Greek and Cyprus desk in Jerusalem.

Israel’s ambassador to Azerbaijan in 2001-2005, Na’eh went on to become senior director of the National Security Council’s at the Diplomatic Secretariat, within the Prime Minister’s Office.

Since 2013, Na’eh has served as deputy ambassador in London where, according to the MFA’s London website, “he has experience spanning economics, politics, press and public diplomacy and has been regularly engaging with diverse faiths, political persuasions, and interest groups across the UK.”

A sixth-generation Israeli able to trace his family roots in the country back to 1853, Na’eh holds a BA (Hons) in Political Science and Middle Eastern History from Tel Aviv University. He is married and has two children.

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