Yair Lapid in Istanbul: Iranian attacks against Israelis a ‘clear violation of Turkish sovereignty by Iran’

June 24, 2022 by Gil Tanenbaum - TPS
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In a further sign of Israel’s improving relationship with Turkey, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid arrived in that country on Thursday and met with his counterpart, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, in Ankara.

Yair Lapid with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusogl Photo: MFA

The visit comes as Israelis were repeatedly warned by their government not to travel to Turkey because of ongoing threats of attacks on them by Iranian agents in the country.

In fact, before Lapid’s arrival on Thursday, Turkish media reported that a week ago Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) arrested an eight-man cell that was working on behalf of the Iranian secret service to target Israelis in the country. And this news came after numerous reports on how Israeli and Turkish authorities working in cooperation have foiled a number of plots by Iranian agents to kidnap or murder Israelis in Turkey.

This comes after relations between the two countries had been strained for a number of years. This was, in part, because of when Israeli forces stormed the Turkish-flagged ship Mavi Marmara when it attempted to violate Israel’s blockade of Gaza in 2010. Several people were killed.

Lapid’s visit also comes as the Israel Knesset on Wednesday made its first move towards dissolution and the calling of a new election. The Knesset is expected to conclude this process sometime next week. When this is done Yair Lapid will automatically become Israel’s interim prime minister and so some had speculated that he might cancel this trip for this very reason.

Lapid made a formal statement with Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu standing by his side who he thanked for aiding in stopping recent terrorist plots against Israelis in Turkey.

“In recent weeks, the lives of Israeli citizens have been saved thanks to the security and diplomatic cooperation between Israel and Türkiye,” said Minister Lapid. “Just today it was revealed that Turkish intelligence recently foiled an Iranian plot in Istanbul. And these efforts are ongoing. We are full of appreciation for the Turkish government for this professional and coordinated activity.”

Yair Lapid went on to state unequivocally that Iran is the one responsible for promoting all of these recent attempted terrorist attacks, saying that the intelligence leaves no doubt about it.

“We’re not only talking about the murder of innocent Israeli tourists,” said Lapid, “but also a clear violation of Turkish sovereignty by Iranian terror. No country should tolerate terror on its soil. We are confident that Türkiye knows how to respond to the Iranians on this matter. For its part, Israel won’t sit idly by when there are attempts to harm its citizens in Israel and around the world.”

Lapid then turned to Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu and raised the issue of expanding air traffic between Israel and Turkey by allowing Israeli airlines to fly directly to both Istanbul and the Turkish coast.

“In the last year, there was great progress in the relations between Israel and Türkiye,” he said. “We began to hold discussions on returning Ambassadors in the near future, and on improving our economic and political dialogue. I hope we will complete these steps soon.”

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