This morning, the Israeli Foreign Ministry announced it would return a diplomatic envoy to Turkey regardless of the current state of affairs between Turkey and Israel.
The announcement comes in the wake of an announcement that Israel had prepared a second round of aid for Turkish survivors of the October 23 earthquake in southern Turkey. Turkey hesitantly accepted the first round of aid, which consisted of seven homes which could provide shelter for at least 1,000 people. That acceptance showed a change in tune from Turkey’s previously extremely hostile position towards Israel.
The new envoy, Joseph Levi-Safri, is a low-ranking official and works as a conflict resolution attorney. In the past he served as part of the Israeli mission to Uruguay. Safri’s appointment as Israel’s representative is due to his low ranking as Turkey has banned all Israeli personnel above the rank of Second Secretary and the fact that he is well-liked in diplomatic circles. Officially, Safri will be the chargé d'affaires for Israel in Turkey.
The Foreign Ministry’s announcement also followed a report that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed a desire to normalize relations with Turkey and would be sending a former Mossad officer – David Medan - on his behalf in the near future. Medan was one of the officials responsible for the return of Gilad Shalit to Israel.
Since the May 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, Israel and Turkey have had a volatile relationship. The conflict reached its peak in September of this year when Turkey demanded restitution for those injured in the Marmara incident in addition to a formal apology and Israeli refused in the wake of the Palmer Report which justified Israeli actions aboard the Marmara and other ships in the 2010 Flotilla. Upon Israeli refusal, Turkey cancelled all existing agreements with Israel and expelled the diplomatic mission including Ambassador Gabby Levy as well as pulling the Turkish diplomatic mission to Israel indefinitely. In addition, Turkey took a belligerent tone, threatening Israel with a military response.
Turkey has not responded to the announcement at this time but are expected to have a response in the coming days.