Netanyahu to meet Erdogan in Turkey next week, a first for an Israeli PM in 15 years

The visit will take place days after a trip by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Ronen Zvulun and Ozan Kose/AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Ronen Zvulun and Ozan Kose/AFP)

ISTANBUL, Turkey – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to Turkey on July 28 to hold talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, both leaders’ offices said late Thursday.

Netanyahu will be received a few days after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who is expected on July 25, the Turkish presidency said.

“President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will welcome the Palestinian [Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Turkey in the course of the same week,” the presidency said in a statement.

The leaders will discuss “Turkey-Palestine relations and the latest developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as other topical international issues,” it added.

Netanyahu’s office confirmed the visit, the first by an Israeli prime minister since Ehud Olmert in 2008.

Last year, President Isaac Herzog met with Erdogan in Turkey, and then-prime minister Yair Lapid met with Erdogan in New York in the fall.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid, left, meets Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan in New York, September 20, 2022. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Turkey’s diplomatic drive comes at a time when the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is at a standstill, against a backdrop of the worst violence in years in the West Bank.

In April, clashes erupted inside Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque, where Israeli police fought with Palestinians inside the holy site.

Erdogan said Israel had crossed a “red line.”

But after several years of tension between the two countries, relations between Turkey and Israel have improved over the past year, with several high-level visits, including that of Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

Relations were strained in 2010 after an Israeli commando raid on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara ship, part of a blockade-busting flotilla, that left dead 10 Turkish activists who attacked IDF soldiers aboard the ship.

Ties later saw a moderate improvement, but both countries withdrew their ambassadors in 2018 after Erdogan leveled charges of “state terrorism” and “genocide” at Israel when dozens of Palestinians were killed in Gaza rioting on May 14 of that year, the day then-US president Donald Trump controversially moved the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

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