Monday, June 27, 2022

Turkey says ties with Israel help ease Palestinian conflict

JERUSALEM ( Associated Press) — Turkey’s foreign minister said on Wednesday that normalizing ties with Israel would aid efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke in Jerusalem as part of a senior Turkish official’s first visit to Israel in 15 years. The visit comes at a time as Israel and Turkey work to re-establish their ties after years of strained relations.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Israeli counterpart, Cavusoglu said that “working on a positive agenda can help us address our disagreements in a more constructive way.” He said communications between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Israeli counterpart helped defuse tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem during Ramadan.

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Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the two countries “always know how to return to dialogue and cooperation.”

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

Kavusoglu’s visit to Jerusalem followed a series of high-level meetings with Palestinian officials in Ramallah, where he outlined Turkey’s commitment to the Palestinians and their independence. Turkey’s foreign minister said he discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with both sides, and “we believe that a two-state solution with UN parameters is the only solution to a lasting peace.”

“We believe that the normalization of our relations will also have a positive impact on the peaceful resolution of the conflict,” he said.

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Earlier on Wednesday, Cavusoglu visited Israel’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem, and was to pay a private visit to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Turkey and Israel were close allies, but relations became strained 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 in 2010, which broke the Israeli-Egyptian blockade. Nine Turkish activists were killed in the incident.

Turkey recalled its ambassador in 2018 after the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem, prompting Israel to respond in kind. The two countries have not reappointed their ambassadors.

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