Photo Credit: Mark Neiman (GPO)
Turkish Ambassador to Israel Kemal Okem shakes hands with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin after presenting his credentials in Jerusalem.

President Reuven Rivlin received the diplomatic credentials of Kemal Ökem, Turkey’s new ambassador to Israel, as part of the closing of the chapter on a six-year-long cold spell.

The president welcomed the Turkish envoy to his official residence in Jerusalem with condolences for the twin suicide bombings Saturday night that took the lives of 44 and wounded another 154.

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Rivlin said, “We must find the way to give strength to the voices of peace and stability. We must strengthen our common ground. When I spoke to President Erdogan, we spoke about the situation in Gaza. I want to thank him for his commitment to help return the Israelis and the bodies of our soldiers held by Hamas. Israel like Turkey places great importance in rebuilding the lives of the civilians in Gaza; in infrastructure, economy, energy, water, and more. This must be with the cooperation of the Palestinian Authority. It is also an important way to show that we can live together in this region.”

The new Turkish ambassador said, “Our region has more than its share of challenges but also of big opportunities. As before, Turkey and Israel will work together to make sure that these opportunities are fully utilized and challenges are met… I will do my best to enhance our relations in every field – regardless of any difficulties that we may face, we will be able to overcome together with our partners and friends Israel.

“I am looking forward to closely working with all of the institutions in this country and do my best to cooperate with them. As you have just said Mr President, our hope is that this cooperation will also work for the benefit of other nations, particularly to the Palestinian Authority as well.”

Last week a similar ceremony took place in Ankara when Israeli ambassador to Turkey, Eitan Na’eh, presented his credentials to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.