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Israeli couple accused of espionage in Turkey to star in insurance commercial

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An Israeli couple that was arrested in Turkey in November for taking a photo of the president’s house will star in a TV commercial for an insurance company in Israel, Israeli media reported on Tuesday.

Mordi and Natalie Oknin were held in Turkey for a week on suspicion of espionage after visiting the newly opened Çamlıca Tower, İstanbul’s tallest building, where they took a photo of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s home in Üsküdar. 

A Turkish court charged the couple, who work as bus drivers in Israel, with “political and military espionage” for taking a picture of Erdoğan’s home. The Oknins denied the charges, while Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid insisted the two were not employees of any spy agency.

The couple was released following intense diplomatic traffic between the two countries. 

In the TV commercial to be shot for the Bituach Yashir insurance company, Mordi and Natalie Oknin will be rescued from prison by Israeli actor Lior Raz.

Raz stars in Netflix’s popular shows “Fauda” and “Hit and Run” and is known for his roles as a secret agent and a commando.

Ties between Israel and Turkey have been tense since a Turkish NGO oversaw a flotilla of ships that tried to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2010.

There has been no ambassador in either country since May 2018, when the two had a bitter falling out, despite strong commercial ties, over Turkey’s reaction to Israeli attacks on Gaza and Washington’s decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The bilateral ties came under further strain when President Erdoğan denounced Israel’s West Bank annexation plan, vowing to prevent its implementation.

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