Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that a visit by his Israeli counterpart, Isaac Herzog, could be possible as part of an improvement in relations between the two countries, which have been strained since the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara ship in 2010.
"We have had talks with Herzog, maybe he could come for a visit to Turkey. Prime Minister (Naftali) Bennett also has a positive stance on this point," Erdogan said at a press conference with his Serbian counterpart, Aleksander Vucic, in Ankara, broadcast live on NTV.
Although Turkey has been a historic ally of Israel, the last visit of an Israeli head of state to Turkey was in 2007, and after the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara in international waters off Gaza, in which ten Turkish activists were killed, the two countries entered a phase of strained relations.
After years of negotiation, in 2016 the ambassadors returned to their posts, but in 2018, following the unrest that followed the US recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, Turkey again expelled the Israeli legate.
Despite the lack of diplomatic representation, trade relations between the two countries have continued to grow.
In recent months, Turkey has been seeking to resume relations with several countries in the region with which it has had serious disagreements, such as Egypt and Armenia.
The rapprochement with Israel is part of the easing of tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, where Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Egypt have shown some unity in the face of Turkish claims to seek natural gas fields in an area claimed by Athens and have planned a possible gas pipeline from Israel to Greece.
Erdogan highlighted the recent withdrawal of US support for this project as a factor facilitating the rapprochement between Turkey and Israel for a pipeline through Turkish territory.