Israeli President tries to improve ties in Turkey | Messages

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The Israeli duke is set to meet Turkey’s Erdogan in the first trip by an Israeli leader since 2008 as the countries seek a rapprochement.

The Israeli president is set to hold talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the capital Ankara as the countries try to mend broken ties during the first visit by an Israeli leader since 2008.

The two countries have constantly exchanged accusations about Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and Ankara’s support for the Hamas group that governs the Gaza Strip.

However, President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Ankara and Istanbul on Wednesday and Thursday had been planned for weeks as the countries sought rapprochement.

Bilateral diplomatic ties and regional issues are expected to dominate talks, but the prospect of using Israeli gas in Turkey and, even more ambitiously, Europe is also likely to emerge in the meeting between the two leaders.

Erdogan said the visit, first announced in January, will herald a “new era” and that the two countries could work together to ship Israeli natural gas to Europe, reviving an idea first discussed more than 20 years ago became.

The head of the Israeli company, which pumps gas from a huge field in the eastern Mediterranean, said his company could supply Turkey if it provided the infrastructure, but he did not comment on Erdogan’s more ambitious idea of ​​connecting it to Europe.

“Our position has always been clear. If you want gas, great. We are ready to give. They build the pipeline to us and we deliver gas,” Yossi Abu, CEO of NewMed Energy, said at an investor conference two weeks ago, as quoted by the Reuters news agency.

Rocky ties

Relations between the two countries have been difficult for various reasons, most notably after the death of 10 civilians in an Israeli raid on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, which was part of a flotilla attempting to breach an Israeli blockade of the besieged Gaza Strip by Aid goods transported to the Gaza Strip area in 2010.

After years of frozen relations, a 2016 reconciliation deal provided for the return of ambassadors but collapsed in 2018 following the Great March of Return protests. More than 200 Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire over a period of several months as Palestinian refugees protested against returning to their homes in what is now Israel, from where they were ethnically cleansed in 1948. The months-long protests also called for an end to Israel’s siege of Gaza.

Turkey recalled its diplomats and ordered the Israeli envoy to leave the country last year as bilateral relations hit another rock bottom.

Although the post of Israeli president is largely ceremonial in nature and any concrete steps towards rapprochement will require Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s approval, Herzog’s visit marks a significant thawing in relations.

The last visit by an Israeli president to Turkey was in 2007 and the last visit by a prime minister was the following year. Erdogan and Bennett spoke in November, the first such call in years.

Ankara has close ties to the Hamas group, which the United States and the European Union have labeled a “terrorist” organization. The Turkish government has received several high-ranking officials in the past.

Although Ankara visibly scaled back its criticism of Israel ahead of Herzog’s visit, it has ruled out abandoning its commitment to supporting Palestinian statehood.

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