‘Turkey, Israel decided to continue ties despite past tensions’

Turkey and Israel have decided to pursue advancing their relations despite the ups and downs in the past few years, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Wednesday.

Turkey and Israel demonstrated a “common will” to improve relations in every field, Çavuşoğlu said at the Turkish Union in Israel.

Ovi Roditi Gülerşen, head of the Turkish Union, expressed hope that recent normalization steps between Turkey and Israel will gain momentum with Çavuşoğlu’s visit.

Meanwhile, the Israeli president on the same day said he is pleased to have an open and sincere dialogue with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as the two countries move to improve bilateral ties.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Isaac Herzog said: “I am very pleased that I have an open, frank dialogue with President Erdoğan, which is leading in the right direction.”

“It is a very interesting, a well-thought of process, which President Erdoğan and myself have started since my assuming office. One of its peaks was my historic state visit in Ankara and Istanbul in March.”

Calling Çavuşoğlu’s historic visit to Israel a “next phase” in bilateral relations, Herzog said: “Çavuşoğlu of Turkey visited Israel yesterday and today for what you would call an action item visit.”

“The process with Turkey of course is not the lullaby of Romeo and Juliet,” he said. “It is a convergence of interests. It is a process that it tested on the ground with many topics to be discussed.”

On regional cooperation, he said: “Our vision is that we should be able to have dialogue with all our neighbors and friends in the Mediterranean, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean,” he said, adding that regional countries can work together on issues such as climate and clean water “for the well-being of humanity.”

Çavuşoğlu, on the first official visit to Israel by a Turkish official in 15 years, said that normalizing ties with Israel and addressing disagreements in a “constructive manner” will contribute to a peaceful resolution to the Mideast conflict. He prayed at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, a major holy site at the heart of recent unrest in the region.

Turkey’s top diplomat also met with Palestinian officials in the occupied West Bank, where he reiterated Turkey’s support for their struggle for an independent state.

“We believe that normalization of our ties will also have a positive impact on peaceful resolution of the conflict,” Çavuşoğlu said. He also visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, on Wednesday.

The countries withdrew their respective ambassadors in 2010 after Israeli forces stormed a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying humanitarian aid for Palestinians that broke an Israeli blockade. The incident resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists.

Relations broke down again in 2018 when Turkey, angered by the United States moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, once more recalled its ambassador, prompting Israel to respond in kind. The two countries have not reappointed their ambassadors.

The latest attempt at a rapprochement has been led by Herzog, Israel’s mostly ceremonial president, who visited Turkey in March, becoming the first Israeli leader to do so in 14 years.

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