JTA — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a group of Jewish leaders on Monday in New York that he plans to visit Israel, another sign that he is intent on resetting a long-troubled relationship.
Erdogan also told a room full of leaders of American Jewish organizations that antisemitism is a “crime against humanity,” a meeting participant told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
The meeting, convened under the auspices of the Turkish embassy and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, took place in New York City, where the United Nations General Assembly has gathered global diplomats this week.
Erdogan did not say when he would visit.
Turkey and Israel last month announced that they planned to restore full diplomatic ties, which have been damaged since 2010, when an Israeli commando raid on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara, part of a blockade-busting flotilla, left 10 Turkish activists dead in a violent melee after they attacked Israeli soldiers who boarded the ship.
President Isaac Herzog visited Turkey in March, and the Foreign Ministry announced a new ambassador to Turkey on Monday. There has not been an ambassador in the country since 2018, when Turkey recalled its ambassador and asked Israel’s to leave in protest of Israel’s response to rioting on the Gaza border, in which dozens of Palestinians were killed.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid will meet with Erdogan on the sidelines of the General Assembly, the first time leaders of the two countries have met since 2008.
Erdogan is seeking to tighten ties with the West as Russia drags on its war against Ukraine. He also wants to make sure Turkey is involved in energy exploration development in the eastern Mediterranean, which until now has been led by Israel and Greece.
Israel is seeking to build on the 2020 Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and four Arab countries. Israel hopes to add other Arab and Muslim-majority countries to the accords.
In addition, as one of the countries to maintain direct ties with Hamas, the terrorist group controlling the Gaza Strip, Turkey has been an intermediary for Israel.
On Sunday, the Turkish government’s official Twitter account posted on Twitter a video of Erdogan strolling through Central Park which included a cheerful encounter with a rabbi, Rachel Goldenberg, of Queens.
— T.C. Cumhurbaşkanlığı (@tcbestepe) September 18, 2022