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Israel–Turkey Relations: A Roadmap to Restoring Ties

May 25, 2022

by: Itamar Eichner ~ Ynetnews

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

Thursday, 25 May 2022 | Mevlut Cavusoglu’s arrival in Israel is the first official visit of a Turkish foreign minister to the Holy land for 15 years, and it will focus mainly on restoring bilateral relations to their past level.

The main issue to be discussed is the return of ambassadors to Ankara and Tel Aviv, but senior Israeli officials said on Tuesday that it is highly unlikely that a decision will be announced during this visit.

One official told Ynet that the very visit by Cavusoglu to Israel is important and contributes to normalizing the Israeli–Turkish ties.

After his arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport, Mevlut Cavusoglu departed for a visit to the Palestinian territories, where he met with PA [Palestinian Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas and with his Palestinian counterpart, Riyad al-Maliki.

On Wednesday, Cavusoglu is expected to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem, followed by a meeting with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov.

Lapid and Cavusoglu will first meet privately and be later joined by other officials. They are expected to make public statements but will not take questions from the press.

The Turkish minister will then visit the Old City of Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque without an Israeli presence, before leaving for Tel Aviv.

Lapid had been outspoken about Turkish policies on Israel and the region, but after Ankara took steps, some relating to security and intelligence matters, his position changed. “We decided it is worth giving these relations a chance,” senior Israeli officials said.

Indications of the Turkish desire to rebuild its relations with Israel can be seen by their removal of objections to the possibility that Israel may join NATO and by stated positions about Israeli policies in international forums.

Relations with Turkey can be renewed relatively quickly, but according to officials, Israel believes that this should be a gradual process.

In Cavusoglu’s visit, Israel hopes to create a roadmap for the development of economic ties, among other things, and at the same time discuss issues of bilateral importance for Jerusalem and Ankara.

The talks will center on statements made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan [that] were considered verging on anti-Semitism and his support of Hamas.

Although Erdoğan appears to have tempered his views, [the] matter has a concrete component: Hamas’s activity in Turkey, which endangers Israelis. Israel expects concrete steps to be taken by Turkey.

Israel sees a direct correlation between the presence of Hamas in Turkey and the progression of relations between the countries and the return of the ambassadors.

Jerusalem hopes Turkey will restrict Hamas operations on its soil, which could expedite the diplomatic efforts.

Israeli officials say Turkey must decide whether to allow the Palestinian issue to prevent Israeli–Turkish rapprochement, or if the two countries can agree to disagree.

As two regional powers, Israel and Turkey will have to build their own set of interests. There are gaps between the two sides, but there are also quite a few understanding and similar views, among other things, regarding Iran’s activities. Turkey does not want to stand at the front line as a country that will battle Iran. However, it surely doesn’t want Iran to reach nuclear capabilities.

The Turkish presence in Syria would also help both sides—and Israel was impressed that there is a basis for the understanding, exchange of information, and even cooperation in the future.

As far as the relations between Israel and Greece, Jerusalem will make it clear to the Turks that the progress of relations with Turkey will not be at the expense of Greece and Cyprus. Turkey, it should be noted, is in the process of warming relations with Greece—and Israel is updating the Greeks and Cypriots about its relations with Turkey.

Posted on May 25, 2022

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on May 24, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

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