New contacts between Erdogan and Herzog to expand ties between Turkey and Israel

Contacts resume after expelling ambassadors in 2018
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AFP/ADEM ALTAN  -   Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

In 2018, Israel and Turkey decided to expel each other's ambassadors, breaking one of the main bases of their diplomatic ties. Since then, the relationship between the two countries has become extremely tense and now, three years later, they are seeking to bridge their differences in order to row in the same direction. However, as is well known, maintaining good relations with Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government is no easy task. Even more so when the historic conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, which Ankara has referred to as the "Israeli occupation", is at stake.

On Monday 12 July, the Turkish president telephoned Isaac Herzog to congratulate him on his new position as Israeli president. It was spokesman Omer Celik himself, following a meeting of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), who announced Erdogan's call: "After this call, a framework emerged in which progress should be made on various issues where improvements can be made and where steps should be taken to resolve problematic areas". A call that was not expected in Jerusalem due to the significant differences that still separate the two countries, but which they hope could be the foundation stone for good relations in the future.

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REUTERS/WILL RUSSELL - Ömer Çelik, spokesman for Turkey's ruling AKP party

The newly elected Israeli president also spoke on his Twitter account about his conversation with Erdogan: "I spoke a few hours ago with the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who called me to congratulate me on taking office as President of the State of Israel. We both emphasised that relations between Israel and Turkey are of great importance for security and stability in the Middle East. We agreed to continue the dialogue to improve relations between our countries".

One of the issues of greatest concern to both sides, which Celik stressed should be addressed at a future dialogue table, is the issue surrounding the West Bank region. While Ankara speaks of occupation, the Israelis call on Turkey to stop supporting the Hamas terrorist group that Israel has long been fighting in the Gaza Strip. Despite this, Turkish-Israeli bilateral trade relations have remained strong.

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PHOTO - President of Israel, Isaac Herzog

One of the objectives that spokesman Omer Celik has also spoken of is to promote the tourism and trade industries, which they believe can be "beneficial" to both countries. During the call, which came a day after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited the Turkish capital, Erdogan told Herzog that he valued the continuation of dialogue and said that Turkish-Israeli relations were one of the cornerstones of ensuring regional stability. Monday's call came a month after Naftali Bennet became Israeli prime minister, replacing Benjamin Netanyahu, after many years of political deadlock.

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AFP/RONEN ZVULUN - Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett

It should not be forgotten that only two months ago, in May, Turkey's president called Israel a "terrorist state". He did so after Israeli police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. This Turkish rapprochement is part of a strategy of conciliation they have been working on for months. The rapprochement with Egypt, with which it has resumed contacts eight years after severing all ties, and the resumption of talks with Saudi Arabia are examples of what is being orchestrated in Ankara and which aims to repair the situation of instability that Turkey has been promoting for so many years.