Bennett thanks Erdogan for Israeli couple’s release


In a phone call, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the release of an Israeli couple held in Istanbul over espionage suspicion.

The phone call between the Israeli and Turkish leaders took place on Thursday night hours after the couple was released and returned to Israel, reports Xinhua news agency.

Bennett’s office issued a statement saying that the Prime Minister thanked Erdogan “for his personal involvement” in the release of Mordi and Natali Oknin.

Bennett said that the release of the couple was “a solution to a humanitarian issue” and “noted favourably the communication axes between the countries, which functioned efficiently and discreetly in times of crisis”.

It was the first official conversation between Bennett, who was sworn-in in June, and Erdogan.

Mordi and Natalie Oknin were arrested for espionage last weer after taking photos of the Ottoman-era Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul while taking a tour on a ferry.

Parts of the building are used as the presidential office.

Earlier on Thursday, Bennett published on his Twitter account a photo of the couple hugging their son and daughter at the exit of the plane, and wrote: “Welcome home.”