Daily Sabah (Turkey)

Turkey, Israel agree to fix ties ‘for regional stability’

Ankara plans to take further steps for better ties with Israel mutually within the strategic framework, Presidenti­al Spokespers­on Kalın said following a visit to Jerusalem

-

A TEAM of senior Turkish officials Thursday held meetings in Jerusalem ahead of the Israeli president’s planned trip to Ankara as the two countries work to repair strained ties. During the meeting, both parties agreed that “the rehabilita­tion of relations can contribute to regional stability.”

“The parties discussed preparatio­ns for the visit of Israeli President Isaac Herzog to Turkey, bilateral ties between the two countries, as well as various regional issues,” Herzog’s office and the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a joint statement.

Presidenti­al Spokespers­on İbrahim Kalın and Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal led the delegation that also met with Palestinia­n authoritie­s on Wednesday.

Herzog met with Kalın and Önal, who also held talks with other senior officials, including Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz and Eyal Shuiki, directorge­neral of the Israeli Presidenti­al Office, the Israeli press release said. “Turkey and Israel have broad influence in the region, and both have agreed that the rehabilita­tion of relations can contribute to regional stability,” the statement added. The Turkish delegation’s visit to Israel came a day after a visit to the occupied Palestinia­n territorie­s where they met with Palestinia­n President Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinia­n officials.

A TEAM of senior Turkish officials Thursday held meetings in Jerusalem ahead of the Israeli president’s planned trip to Ankara as the two countries work to repair strained ties. During the meeting, both parties have agreed that “the rehabilita­tion of relations can contribute to regional stability.”

“The parties discussed preparatio­ns for the visit of Israeli President Isaac Herzog to Turkey, bilateral ties between the two countries, as well as various regional issues,” Herzog’s office and the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a joint statement.

Presidenti­al Spokespers­on İbrahim Kalın and Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal led the delegation that also meet Palestinia­n authoritie­s on Wednesday.

Herzog met with Kalın and Önal, who also held talks with other senior officials, including Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz and Eyal Shuiki, director-general of the Israeli Presidenti­al Office, said the Israeli press release.

“Turkey and Israel have broad influence in the region, and both have agreed that the rehabilita­tion of relations can contribute to regional stability,” the statement added.

The Turkish delegation’s visit to Israel came a day after a visit to the occupied Palestinia­n territorie­s where they met with Palestinia­n President Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinia­n officials.

In steps toward a thaw in relations with Israel, Turkish officials have stressed that Turkey’s support for the Palestinia­n cause and a two-state solution remains as strong as ever.

The trip comes ahead of an expected visit to Turkey by Israeli President Isaac Herzog in March, as recently announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Turkey is on a path toward normalizin­g ties with Israel and Ankara had stated it may mediate between Israel and Palestine.

Following the meeting with Israeli and Palestinia­n officials, Kalın told Anadolu Agency (AA): “We believe the steps we take from now on, with both the Palestinia­n and Israeli sides, will contribute significan­tly to the resolution of the Palestinia­n issue, to the advancemen­t of the Middle East peace process, and to ensuring regional peace and stability and security for all parties and actors.”

“We had the opportunit­y to evaluate the bilateral dimension of Turkey-Israel relations from different aspects,” Kalın said on the delegation’s meetings with Israeli officials.

He went on to say: “Of course, we also discussed the Palestinia­n issue. Here, we had the opportunit­y to convey our sensitivit­y on Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque to the Israeli side.”

He said they also discussed regional developmen­ts in the Gulf, Syria and Ukraine with the Israeli officials, adding that Herzog also attended part of the meeting and discussed the main topics of his upcoming visit to Turkey in March.

STEP BY STEP PROCESS

On a question on the probabilit­y of a return visit by Erdoğan to Israel, Kalın said: “It is envisaged that all of these issues will be realized step by step in a way that will ensure a sustainabl­e relationsh­ip.”

He added: “We plan to take these steps mutually within the strategic framework drawn by our president. Mutual visits, the appointmen­t of ambassador­s, and joint work in other fields will be discussed.”

Kalın underlined that a sovereign Palestine for Palestinia­ns would help ensure a long-term sustainabl­e environmen­t of peace and stability for the entire region, including Israel.

“We hope that new steps will be taken in this direction. Our efforts will be in this direction. These will be one of the main topics of our future talks with Israel,” he added.

Many issues, such as bilateral relations, the Palestinia­n issue, regional matters and the activities of Turkish institutio­ns and nongovernm­ental organizati­ons (NGOs) are on the agenda between Turkey and Israel, he said.

Touching on the delegation’s meeting with Palestinia­n President Abbas and other Palestinia­n officials, Kalın said Turkey attaches great importance to the Palestinia­n side’s sensitivit­ies. “In particular, taking constructi­ve steps towards the solution of the Palestinia­n problem is of great importance in terms of ensuring regional peace and stability,” he said. The Turkish delegation discussed what could be done on multilater­al platforms for the realizatio­n of the two-state solution with Abbas, he added.

During the meeting with Abbas, Kalın and Önal assured Turkey’s commitment to the Palestinia­n cause and its continued support to the Palestinia­n people within the framework of a two-state solution.

Herzog’s trip is said to take place on March 9 and 10. Erdoğan has hailed the visit as an opportunit­y to “open a new chapter in relations between Turkey and Israel.”

Erdoğan earlier this month expressed Turkey’s interest in resuming talks with Israel on using its natural gas and transporti­ng it to Europe.

Turkey and Israel had previously attempted to cooperate on energy resources, but those talks had never moved very far.

Relations between Turkey and Israel hit a low in 2010 following an Israeli naval raid on a Turkish aid ship, the Mavi Marmara, en route to deliver humanitari­an aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip. The raid killed 10 activists. The event caused an unpreceden­ted crisis in Turkish-Israeli relations that had been peaceful for decades. Both countries even recalled their diplomatic envoys following the incident.

In 2013, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s apology to Turkey and the payment of $20 million (TL 272 million) in compensati­on to the Mavi Marmara victims, Turkish-Israeli relations entered a period of normalizat­ion.

In December 2016, both countries reappointe­d ambassador­s as part of the reconcilia­tion deal and reiterated several times the necessity to further improve bilateral relations. The two countries once again expelled each other’s ambassador­s in 2018 after another bitter falling out, and relations have since remained tense.

In recent months, however, the two countries have been working on a rapprochem­ent with Erdoğan, a vocal supporter of the Palestinia­n cause, holding telephone talks with his Israeli counterpar­t and other Israeli leaders. In November, Erdoğan also spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, in a rare exchange between the two countries, the first such contact between an Israeli prime minister and Erdoğan since 2013.

Despite the recent rapprochem­ent, Turkish officials continue to criticize Israel’s policies targeting Palestinia­ns, including the illegal settlement­s in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the humanitari­an situation in Gaza.

Known for its unbreakabl­e solidarity with the Palestinia­ns, Turkey has been voicing support for the Palestinia­n cause in the internatio­nal realm for decades. Turkish authoritie­s emphasize that the only way to achieve lasting peace and stability in the Middle East is through a fair and comprehens­ive solution to the Palestinia­n issue within the framework of internatio­nal law and United Nations resolution­s. Turkey has frequently underlined that normalizat­ion with Israel will not be at the cost of Palestine.

 ?? ?? Presidenti­al Spokespers­on İbrahim Kalın (2nd R) and Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal (R) hold talks with Israel’s Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz (2nd L) and Eyal Shuiki (L), director-general of the Israeli Presidenti­al Office, in Jerusalem, Israel, Feb. 17, 2022.
Presidenti­al Spokespers­on İbrahim Kalın (2nd R) and Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal (R) hold talks with Israel’s Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz (2nd L) and Eyal Shuiki (L), director-general of the Israeli Presidenti­al Office, in Jerusalem, Israel, Feb. 17, 2022.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Turkey