Photo Credit: E.T. Studhalter / Wikimedia
Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan, 2006, at World Economic Forum in Davos

Israeli President Isaac Herzog spoke by phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, the first conversation between the Turkish leader and an Israeli official in years.

Erdogan congratulated Herzog on his inauguration.


The presidents emphasized in the conversation that Israeli-Turkish relations “are of great importance for security and stability in the Middle East” and that there is “a high potential for cooperation between the two countries in many areas, especially in the fields of energy, tourism and technology,” Herzog’s office stated.

They also noted that despite the Coronavirus pandemic, bilateral trade between the countries is expanding and developing.

“The presidents attach great importance to the continuation of contacts and continuous dialogue despite all the disagreements, in order to promote positive steps to resolve the Israeli-Arab conflict that will also contribute to the improvement of Israel-Turkey relations,” the statement said.

Herzog also recently spoke with King Abdullah of Jordan and Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas.

The relations between Israel and Turkey have been sour for years as Erdogan and his Islamist ruling party have drawn the country toward the Muslim Brotherhood and have espoused anti-Israel Islamic ideas, and even anti-Semitic notions.

In May, the US State Department “strongly” condemned Erdogan’s “anti-Semitic comments regarding the Jewish people and finds them reprehensible.”

Erdogan, who shares close ties with Hamas, accused Israel of “terrorism” and recently said that “it is in their [Jews] nature,” AFP reported.

“They are murderers, to the point that they kill children who are five or six years old. They only are satisfied by sucking their blood,” he reportedly said.

Turkey has also been trying to expand its influence in eastern Jerusalem.

Turkey is facing a complex financial situation in the country, as well as tense relations with the US and Europe. This conversation may be an attempt by Erdogan to improve his situation.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.