Israel, Turkey Vow to Mend Broken Ties in Historic Visit
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JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel and Turkey on Wednesday vowed to rebuild their strained relationship despite still having deep differences.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog sat down for talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara – marking the first visit by an Israeli leader in 14 years.
Erdogan lauded his talks with Herzog as a “new turning point in the relations between Turkey and Israel.”
"Our common goal is the revitalization of political dialogue between our countries, based on common interests and respect for mutual sensitivities,” Erdogan said during a joint press conference with Herzog.
Israel’s president called the visit a “key moment.”
“This is a very important moment in relations between our countries, and I feel it is a great privilege for both of us to lay the foundations for the cultivation of friendly relations between our states and our peoples, and to build bridges that are critical for all of us,” he said.
Erdogan said he wants to cooperate with Israel in energy, adding that Turkey’s foreign ministers and energy ministers would visit Israel soon.
Israel and Turkey were once close allies, but their relationship has deteriorated under Erdogan, who is a harsh critic of Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians.
“I expressed the importance we attach to reducing tensions in the region and preserving the vision of a two-state solution," Erdogan said. "I underlined the importance we attach to the historical status of Jerusalem and the preservation of the religious identity and sanctity of Masjid Aqsa," he added, referring to the Al-Aqsa Mosque located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's historic Old City.
Israel is troubled by Turkey’s embrace of the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip. Turkey has hosted several Hamas leaders, which has only further strained relations between the two nations.
The countries withdrew their respective ambassadors in 2010 after Israeli troops raided a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying humanitarian aid that broke an Israeli blockade. The event resulted in the deaths of 9 Turkish activists.
Relations broke down even further in 2018, when the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem. Turkey, angered by the move, recalled its ambassador and Israel did the same. The two countries have not restored their respective ambassadors since then.
Despite the talks and hopes of thawing icy relations, neither country is prepared to announce the installment of ambassadors in each other’s capitals, the Times of Israel reported.
The visit comes at a time when Israel is working to build warm relations with its neighbors in the region. Israel recently normalized ties with Morocco, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan through the US-brokered “Abraham Accords.”
On Thursday, Herzog is expected to travel to Istanbul to meet members of Turkey’s Jewish community.
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