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Foreign Ministry chief to visit Turkey for first bilateral talks in years

Yuval Rotem heads delegation to Ankara to meet Turkish officials, Jewish community leaders as ties warm 6 years after Mavi Marmara raid

Yuval Rotem, director-general of the Foreign Ministry, October 13, 2016. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Yuval Rotem, director-general of the Foreign Ministry, October 13, 2016. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Director-General Yuval Rotem is headed to Turkey on Tuesday to launch bilateral talks on increasing cooperation and dialogue between Jerusalem and Ankara, for the first time in over six years since relations between the two allies went south following the Mavi Marmara affair.

Rotem will head a delegation that will meet with Turkish officials across the government agencies, Israeli officials in Turkey’s embassy and consulates, and the heads of Turkey’s Jewish communities.

The aim of the three-day visit, according to a Foreign Ministry statement, is to “continue developing bilateral ties and strengthen cooperation on the political, economic and cultural spheres.”

“The political dialogue sends a positive message on the commitment of both sides to deepen the relationship between the two countries,” read the statement, adding that the talks will also “allow for comprehensive discussion, after six years of…challenges, on the drastic changes in the region.”

Rotem will also express Israel’s solidarity with Turkey in the face of a series of terror attacks and Israel’s gratitude for Ankara’s assistance when the casualties were Israeli citizens.

Last month, the respective ambassadors to both countries presented their credentials to presidents Reuven Rivlin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, marking a fresh start to relations between the two states after intense detente efforts following a deadly May 2010 incident that soured relations between Jerusalem and Ankara.

Footage taken from the 'Mavi Marmara' security cameras showing activists preparing to attack IDF soldiers, May 2010. (IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)
Footage taken from the ‘Mavi Marmara’ security cameras showing activists preparing to attack IDF soldiers, May 2010. (IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)

Ties were frozen following a raid by Israeli forces on a Gaza blockade-busting ship, the Mavi Marmara, in which 10 Turks were killed in a melee after they attacked IDF troops. Israel and Turkey had previously been close economic partners, including in the defense field.

A lengthy reconciliation process between the countries began in 2013 and an agreement was finally signed last summer.

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