Natali and Mordy Oknin

Bennett, Lapid: Dear Oknins, welcome home!

Safe in their central Israel home, couple thanks prime minister, foreign minister after spending almost two weeks in Turkish prison; Bennett: We're so happy that you've arrived safely

Meir Turgeman, Itamar Eichner |
Published: 11.18.21, 12:32
After almost two weeks in Turkish prison, Natali and Mordy Oknin landed in Israel on Thursday and received a call from Prime Minister Naftali Bennet and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.
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  • Bennett: Dear Oknins, good morning. This is Naftali Bennett speaking and the wonderful foreign minister, Yair Lapid, is beside me. Welcome home. We're so happy that you've arrived safely. How are you feeling?
    2 צפייה בגלריה
    מורדי ונטלי אוקנין בריאיון ראשון לתקשורת
    מורדי ונטלי אוקנין בריאיון ראשון לתקשורת
    Natali and Mordy Oknin
    (Photo: Shmulik Davidpur)
    Mordy Oknin: "We are fine, a little excited about everything that has happened in the country. Everyone has taken on the task of getting us out of this thing. All thanks to you, to the government, to Yair Lapid the foreign minister, and to the honorable president."
    Natali Oknin: "Mr. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, we want to tell you from the bottom of our hearts, we're not taking what you did for granted. You were by our side. I heard that [Lapid] spoke to my family every day, and also the prime minister. You spoke to my family, you spoke to my sisters, my brother, my daughter Shiraz, everyone. I heard that the whole government rallied behind us… We are grateful. We are strong thanks to you."
    The couple was detained last week after they took photos of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's residence during a trip to Istanbul and were charged for espionage.
    Mordy and Natali Oknin arrived at their home in central Israel where they were greeted by family and a crowd of reporters. From the family's balcony, Natali thanked all those who were involved in securing their release.
    2 צפייה בגלריה
    נפתלי בנט ויאיר לפיד בשיחה עם נטלי מורדי אוקנין
    נפתלי בנט ויאיר לפיד בשיחה עם נטלי מורדי אוקנין
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid calling Mordy and Natali Oknin after their release from Turkish prison
    (Photo: GPO)
    They arrived soon after 6am onboard a private jet rented by the Foreign Ministry and were greeted by family members.
    Natali Oknin's daughter Shiraz said: "I am in cloud nine in a way you can't describe. I want to say thank you so much to the whole country."
    Following the release, Erdogan and President Isaac Herzog spoke, a rare outreach between the leaders of both countries with relations at a low in recent years. Herzog, who holds a ceremonial role, thanked Erdogan "for his personal involvement and contribution" to securing the Oknins' release.
    According to both of their offices, Erdogan emphasized the importance of ties between the countries, and they both highlighted the need to focus on regional peace. The leaders agreed to remain in touch, Herzog's office said.
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