ANKARA, Turkey ( Associated Press) — Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog, is expected to visit Turkey next month, Turkey’s president has said, as the two countries move to repair the cracks.
In an interview with private NTV broadcaster late Wednesday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his Israeli counterpart would travel in the first half of February.
“With this visit, a new era in Israel-Turkey relations could begin,” Erdogan said.
Relations between Turkey and Israel – once close regional allies – have deteriorated under Erdogan, who is a vocal critic of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians.
The countries withdrew their ambassadors after Israeli forces raided a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying humanitarian aid for Palestinians that broke Israel’s blockade in 2010. Nine Turkish activists were killed in the incident.
Relations broke down again in 2018, when Turkey, angered by the US moving its embassy to Jerusalem, once again recalled its ambassador to Israel, prompting Israel to recall its envoy as well.
The presidents of Turkey and Israel have spoken on the phone since Herzog took office. Erdogan has also spoken to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett after the release of an Israeli couple arrested on charges of espionage in Istanbul.
The move towards a reconciliation comes at a time when Turkey is trying to end its international isolation by normalizing its troubled ties with several countries in the region, including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Erdogan also told NTV television that he would visit the UAE on February 14.