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Lapid, Turkey’s Erdogan to hold 1st meeting on sidelines of UN General Assembly

Meet will be first for Turkish leader with an Israeli PM since 2008; Lapid also set to hold meetings with new UK PM Truss, Greek PM Mitsotakis and UN chief Guterres

Composite image shows Prime Minister Yair Lapid, left, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool; AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
Composite image shows Prime Minister Yair Lapid, left, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool; AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid will meet with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly, according to a schedule published by his office on Saturday.

Lapid will fly to New York on Monday, and speak at the assembly on Thursday, his office said.

Lapid is expected to hold a meeting with Erdogan, as well as new British Prime Minister Liz Truss, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The statement said that there may be additional meetings held.

Lapid will also meet with American communal Jewish leaders, and will participate in the annual gala of an IDF soldiers’ welfare organization.

The Prime Minister’s Office said Lapid will be accompanied on the visit to the UNGA by National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata, Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz, Military Secretary Avi Gil, PMO chief of staff Naama Schultz and Cabinet Secretary Shalom Shlomo.

Illustrated: A general view of the United Nations General Assembly at UN Headquarters, September 21, 2016. (AP/Jason DeCrow)

According to the Walla news site, the upcoming meeting between Lapid and Erdogan will mark the first time the Turkish leader has met with an Israeli prime minister since his meeting with then-prime minister Ehud Olmert in Ankara in 2008.

Lapid visited Ankara as foreign minister in June, where he met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu. After the high-level talks aimed at cementing the countries’ rapprochement, Lapid hailed security cooperation with Turkey in helping foil an Iranian plot to kidnap or kill Israeli nationals in Istanbul.

Israel and Turkey announced the full renewal of diplomatic ties last month. At the time, Lapid hailed the development in a statement as “an important asset for regional stability and very important economic news for the citizens of Israel.”

Israel was a long-time regional ally of Turkey, before a 2010 commando raid on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara, part of a blockade-busting flotilla, left 10 Turkish activists dead after they attacked Israeli soldiers who boarded the ship.

Despite an official apology by then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Erdogan maintained his rage, accusing the Jewish state of “keeping Hitler’s spirit alive” during Operation Defensive Shield in July 2014 and calling it a “terrorist state.”

Relations later improved somewhat, but both countries withdrew their ambassadors after Erdogan in 2018 leveled charges of “state terrorism” and “genocide” at Israel when dozens of Palestinians were killed in Gaza rioting in May of that year, after then-US president Donald Trump controversially moved the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, shows the way to President Isaac Herzog during a welcome ceremony, in Ankara, Turkey, March 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Amid diplomatic signals this year indicating Erdogan was seeking détente with Israel, President Isaac Herzog visited Ankara on an official trip in March and was welcomed in the capital by a full military procession.

Erdogan has likely been seeking to thaw relations with Israel to reduce Turkey’s growing political and economic isolation.

The Turkish currency has plummeted in recent years, leaving Turkey in economic turmoil with an election slated for 2023.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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