President Isaac Herzog called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today, thanking him for enabling Natali and Mordi Oknin to return to Israel. According to a statement from his office, Herzog thanked Erdogan "for his personal involvement and contribution" to securing the release of the Oknins. The statement said that in their conversation, Erdogan “emphasized the importance that he attaches to relations with Israel, which he said were of key importance to the peace, stability and security of the Middle East.” The statement also noted that Herzog welcomes a comprehensive dialogue between Israel and Turkey on bilateral and regional issues.
The Israeli couple was freed this morning after eight days of detention in Istanbul for suspected espionage. They were arrested Nov. 9 after taking photos of the president’s palace while visiting the Camlica Tower. A staff member saw them taking pictures of the palace and called the police, who came to the venue and arrested them and a Turkish friend who accompanied them. They were held separately and their lawyer and representatives of the Israeli Consulate were authorized to see them only after several days of detention.