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Turkey, Israel agree to strengthen ties in historic talks

May 25, 2022

It is the first time in 15 years that a top Turkish official has visited Israel. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Ankara is ready to help efforts to facilitate "dialogue" between Israeli and Palestinian officials.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stands alongside Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid during a joint press conference in Jerusalem
Turkey and Israel's top diplomats agreed to restart economic cooperation during talks in JerusalemImage: Cem Ozdel/AA/picture alliance

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu praised "constructive" talks with his Israeli counterpart, Yair Lapid, after the two met in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

Cavusoglu is the first senior Turkish official to visit Israel in 15 years. The talks come amid efforts to thaw relations and improve diplomatic and economic cooperation after years of tensions.

What did Turkey and Israel agree to?

Following their meeting, the foreign ministers outlined a list of measures to improve diplomatic, security and economic relations.

They agreed to renew a discussion that would enable Israeli airlines to fly to Turkey, as well as relaunch the activity of a bilateral Joint Economic Commission.

"We won't pretend that our relationship has not seen its ups and downs," Lapid said at a joint press conference.

"Nations with long histories always know how to close one chapter, and open a new one," Lapid said. "That is what we are doing here today."

At the press conference, Cavusoglu said Turkey was a top trading partner for Israel, as well as a popular destination for Israeli tourists.

The Turkish foreign minister said "working on a positive agenda can also help us to address our disagreements in a more constructive manner."

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stands next to Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan
Earlier on Wednesday, Cavusoglu laid a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorialImage: GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP/Getty Images

Turkey's role in a 'peaceful resolution' of Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Cavusoglu also expressed optimism that the thawing of ties with Israel could help Palestinians, and said Turkey was ready to help support dialogue.

"We believe that normalization of our ties will have a positive impact on peaceful resolution of the conflict," he told reporters.

Prior to his visit to Jerusalem, Cavusoglu met with President Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian officials on Tuesday in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The Turkish minister signed several cooperation agreements with Palestinians during the talks.

On Wednesday, Cavusoglu  said he discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with both sides, and reiterated Turkey's stance "that the two-state solution with UN parameters is only the solution for a durable peace."

Cavusoglu said "Turkey is ready to take responsibility to continue the efforts towards dialogue" between Israeli and Palestinian officials.

Earlier on Wednesday, he visited Israel's Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem. He is also set to pay a private visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

What is the state of Israel-Turkey relations?

Relations between the countries have grown tense under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Turkish leader has repeatedly criticized the Israeli government, particularly over policies towards Palestinians.

In 2018, Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel after then US President Donald Trump moved Washington's embassy to Jerusalem. Israel also pulled its ambassador to Turkey. Both countries have not yet reappointed ambassadors.

In recent months, however, both Turkey and Israel have made moves to improve relations. In March, the countries announced a new era in relations when Erdogan met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Ankara.

DW's Tania Krämer contributed reporting from Jerusalem.

rs/rt (AP, AFP, dpa)

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