Israeli, Turkish defense chiefs to meet for first time in a decade amid thaw
Gantz will travel to Ankara next week in bid to renew defense ties following a year of warming relations
Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz is slated to travel to Turkey next week for an official trip, the first by a defense chief in over a decade, his office announced Thursday.
Gantz’s office said he was expected to meet with his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, during the trip, which will begin Wednesday. Further details about Gantz’s schedule will be published closer to the time, his office added.
The planned meeting between Gantz and Akar will mark another step in a year-long process that has seen the countries inch back toward full diplomatic relations after over a decade of frayed and frozen ties.
The planned trip comes two months after Dror Shalom, who heads the ministry’s Political-Military Bureau, met Turkish defense officials to “renew the lines of security relations between the countries” after a decade, the ministry said.
During Shalom’s meetings in Turkey, the issues that would be discussed between Gantz and Akar were agreed upon, the ministry added.
Defense ties were once a mainstay of Israel’s relations with Turkey, but unraveled as diplomatic ties soured.
Gantz also discussed ties with Turkey during a visit to Azerbaijan earlier this month.
Renewed defense ties between Jerusalem and Ankara are said to have been made possible after Turkish authorities managed to foil a series of attacks by Iranian cells that were planning to assassinate or kidnap Israeli tourists in Istanbul in late July.
And last month, for the first time in a decade, a Turkish warship anchored at an Israeli port.
Last month, Prime Minister Yair Lapid met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly’s annual high-level meeting. It was the first such meeting between an Israeli premier and the Turkish leader since 2008.
That discussion came just over a month after the two leaders held a phone call and agreed to move forward with the full restoration of ties and to return ambassadors to each other’s capitals, ending years of antagonism that largely surrounded Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians.
Jerusalem has also long pressed Ankara to crack down on Hamas’s activity in Turkey, arguing that the Gaza-based terror group uses the foreign office to orchestrate terror attacks against Israelis.
On Thursday, three Israeli men were charged for allegedly sending a large volume of sensitive information to Hamas in Turkey, and for plans to sabotage Israel’s cellular network in a future war.
Jacob Magid contributed to this report.