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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (R) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid

PM on Israelis Detained in Turkey: ‘We are Doing All We Can’

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at the opening of Sunday’s, November 14, cabinet meeting that he was working to secure the release of an Israeli couple detained in Turkey for taking photographs of the president’s palace.

“They are two innocent citizens who accidentally got into a complicated situation,” Bennett said. “I spoke with the family yesterday and we are doing everything we can to resolve the issue. I ask the family, despite the great difficulty, to be strong. We are with you. Beyond that, it wouldn’t be right to expand [on the matter] at the moment.”

Turkish authorities detained Natali and Mordy Oknin, residents of Modiin, on Thursday, November 11, for photographing Erdogan’s palace in Istanbul. The couple and their family insist they did not know it was illegal to do so.

Earlier on Sunday, Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid held urgent consultations on the issue.

Bennett and Lapid reviewed the efforts made over the weekend and agreed to continue to work to find a solution as soon as possible. Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz, National Security Council head Eyal Hulata and other officials participated in the talks.

A Turkish court on Friday extended the couple’s remand by 20 days, with local authorities saying they suspected the Oknins of espionage, as the episode appeared to be expanding into a diplomatic spat between the two countries.

Israel has firmly and formally rejected the allegation that the couple, both of whom are Egged bus drivers, are spies.

Meanwhile, the Israeli lawyer representing the pair said Sunday that he hoped that no indictment would be filed and the pair would be allowed to return home. (TOI / VFI News)

“God, we ask that You bring the Oknins safely back to Israel.”