Israel’s President Herzog has ‘positive’ talk with Turkey’s Erdogan after release of Oknin couple

November 19, 2021 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Israel’s President Isaac Herzog spoke by phone on Thursday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following the release of the Israelis Mordy and Natali Oknin from Turkish custody late Wednesday night.

Natalie and Mordy Oknin, the Israeli couple who faced charges of espionage in Turkey after taking pictures of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s residence on Nov. 12, 2021. Source: Facebook.

The Oknin couple was arrested by Turkish authorities a week and a half ago after taking a picture of Erdoğan’s residence. After “joint efforts with Turkey” they were released Wednesday night and were not charged with espionage, as initially feared.

Herzog’s office stated that the conversation was “conducted in a positive spirit.” Herzog thanked Erdoğan for “his personal involvement and contribution” to the Oknin couple’s return home to Israel.

Herzog was reportedly key in their release and was Israel’s direct line to Erdogan.

Erdoğan emphasized in the conversation the “importance he attaches to relations with Israel, which he said were of key importance to the peace, stability, and security of the Middle East.”

Herzog welcomed “the desire for Turkey and Israel to hold a comprehensive dialogue on bilateral and regional issues related to regional peace.”

The two leaders agreed to remain in contact. This was their second conversation.

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

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.

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