Skip to main content

Turkey chooses pro-Erdogan ambassador to Israel in bid to normalize ties

There has been no ambassador in either country since May 2018, when Ankara withdrew its envoy over escalating attacks on Palestinians in Gaza and Washington's decision to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem.

Turkey has selected a new ambassador to Israel in line with efforts to normalize relations with the Jewish state and score brownie points with the incoming administration of US President-elect Joe Biden, several well placed sources have told Al-Monitor. The new ambassador, Ufuk Ulutas, 40, is chairman for the Center for Strategic Research at the Turkish Foreign Ministry and a political appointee who studied Hebrew and Middle Eastern politics at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He also worked as director of the SETA foundation, a pro-government think tank, and written numerous papers on the Middle East policy and Jewish history. Ulutas is also an expert on Iran. Sources familiar with Ulutas described him as something of a wunderkind — “very polished,” “very clever” and “very pro-Palestinian.”

There has been no ambassador in either country since May 2018, when Turkey asked the Israeli ambassador to “take leave” over escalating attacks against Palestinians in Gaza and the Donald Trump administration’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has fashioned himself as a standard bearer of Palestinian rights in the Muslim world, and once booming relations between Turkey and Israel have steadily deteriorated since his Justice and Development Party (AKP) rose to power in 2002.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.