Turkey’s powerful president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has approved a new government, with a prime minister seeking to mend troubled ties with Israel.

Binali Yildirim, who is widely considered to be Erdogan’s mouthpiece, replaced anti-Israel premier Ahmet Davutoglu this week, saying: “We will increase the number of our friends, and decrease the number of enemies.”

Turkey and Israel have been negotiating a diplomatic thaw for the last six months, following a deterioration in ties after Israeli commandos stormed a Turkish flotilla to Gaza in 2010, killing nine activists.

Binali Yildirim

Binali Yildirim

Despite this year agreeing a cash-for-refugees deal with Turkey, European leaders are worried about Erdogan’s increasing authoritarian tendencies, and those concerns were reinforced this week, with Yildirim said he would seek to amend the constitution to bulk his boss’s powers further.

In recent months, Erdogan has continued his crackdown on media and government critics, ordering the takeover of the country’s largest independent newspaper and the extended the definition of “terrorist”.