Israel and Turkey ‘return to dialogue,’ renew economic cooperation

May 26, 2022 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Israel and Turkey have agreed to renew talks on a new civil aviation agreement and the return of Israeli airline flights to Turkey and resume the activity of the two countries’ Joint Economic Commission.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid (R) welcomes Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. (Asi Efrati/GPO)

This was announced by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid after meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

Çavuşoğlu landed in Israel on Tuesday for an official visit, the first such high-level visit by a Turkish official in Israel in 15 years. The focus of his visit is the normalization of the bilateral ties between the two countries, the return of the two countries’ ambassadors, and the potential for expanding collaboration after years of cooled and sour relations.

In comments to the press, Lapid said: “We won’t pretend that our relationship has not seen its ups and downs. But we remember that Turkey was the first Muslim nation to recognize Israel, back in 1949. And we have always known how to return to dialogue and cooperation. Nations with long histories always know how to close one chapter, and open a new one. That is what we are doing here today.”

“Following the Abraham Accords, a new partnership of strength has been created in the Middle East against terror, against attempts to undermine stability. Following this visit, the two of us are expecting to see progress not only in our diplomatic and security relations, but in our economic ties as well,” said Lapid.

“I commend you on your visit, Mr. Minister, and for the fruitful, honest, and productive conversations we had this morning. Today, we are initiating a new framework for improving our relations that not only we, but our children, will benefit from for years to come,” he declared.

“The goal is to form and expand economic and civil cooperation between our countries, to create business-to-business and people-to-people ties, and to leverage our two countries’ comparative advantages regionally and globally,” he explained.

The relations between Israel and Turkey have been sour for years as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Islamist ruling party have drawn the country toward the Muslim Brotherhood and have espoused anti-Israel Islamic ideas and even anti-Semitic notions.

Turkey has also become home to Hamas’ headquarters, generating further tensions between Jerusalem and Ankara. Turkey is facing a complex financial situation in the country, as well as tense relations with the US and Europe. Erdoğan may attempt to improve his situation through the resolution of this crisis with Israel.

While Israel is emphasizing the need to expel Hamas’ headquarters from Turkey, Turkey is underscoring its desire to integrate into the Israeli gas project. Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez arrived with Çavuşoğlu in Israel.  Erdoğan has said he was prepared to work with Israel on reviving an old project to ship gas to Europe through Turkey.

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