Turkey to “relaunch” Israeli presidential ties, H24info

Israeli President Isaac Herzog arrived in Turkey on Wednesday, where he will make the first visit by an Israeli head of state since 2007, which has ambitions to “revive” bilateral ties, which had strained over the past ten years.

Mr Herzog, whose position is largely honorary, is due to meet his counterpart in Ankara, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been a strong defender of the Palestinian cause in recent years, complicating relations with the Jewish state.

“We will not agree on everything and relations between Israel and Turkey have certainly seen ups and downs and difficult times in recent years, but we will try to revive relations and build them in a measured and cautious way. ,” said Mr. Herzog just before. he left.

The visit, which has been planned for weeks, sees the two countries separately launching Russia-Ukraine mediation and the conflict could interfere with their talks.

Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers meet in Antalya (South) on Thursday for the first time since the start of Moscow’s offensive against Ukraine on February 24.

But after more than ten years of diplomatic chill, bilateral issues will likely dominate the meeting.

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Relations have been strained since the Mavi Marmara case in 2010, when Israeli forces carried out a deadly attack on a Turkish ship trying to aid the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian enclave under Israeli blockade.

The two countries withdrew their ambassadors in 2018 following the deaths of Palestinian protesters in Gaza.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently said he expected a visit by Mr Herzog, with whom he has spoken on several occasions since Israel’s inauguration in July, to “open a new chapter” in their relationship.

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“It is possible that the ambassadors will be named (in Ankara and Tel Aviv) at the end of this meeting,” said Sinan Ulgen, director of the Adam Studies Center in Istanbul.

In mid-November, Mr. Erdogan had exchanges with his Israeli counterpart and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett – the first meeting between an Israeli prime minister and Mr. Erdogan since 2013 – hours after his release and one of Israel’s own. Returning to the country, the tourist couple was accused of spying and detained in Turkey.

The event proved to be “a turning point” as it “helped to generate a dialogue between the Israeli and Turkish sides and an opportunity for better relations”, said Gallia Lindenstrass, an Israeli analyst at the Institute for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv. noted. ,

– “Moderation” –

According to Israeli officials, Mr. Herzog and Erdogan may also discuss the possibility of exporting Israeli gas to Europe via Turkey, an issue that is at the center of the news as Europeans seek to reduce their reliance on Russian gas.

Israel signed an agreement with Cyprus and Greece in 2020 on the construction of a gas pipeline to transport gas to Europe, a project that was opposed by Turkey.

Israel, Cyprus and Greece, three allies in the eastern Mediterranean, have had difficult relations with Ankara.

But Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to arrive in Istanbul on Sunday.

The three countries also participate in the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum along with other countries in the region, but this does not include Turkey.

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In January, Turkey’s president said he was ready to cooperate with Israel on the gas pipeline project, marking Ankara’s desire to renew ties.

Discussions on the gas, as well as the domestic economic crisis and the recent frustration stemming from its exclusion from strained ties with Washington, prompt Turkey to resume contact with Israel, decried Ms Lindenstrass.

The Israeli president went to Athens in late February to reassure his Greek ally ahead of his trip to Turkey.

For Galia Lindenstrass, the warming of relations between Israel and Turkey “could also turn out to be good news for Greece and Cyprus, if it translates into more restraint in Turkey’s foreign policy”.

Isaac Herzog is also scheduled to meet members of the Jewish community in Istanbul on Thursday. But the snow that invites itself becomes a danger to this part of the trip.

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