Photo Credit: Courtesy of the President of Israel
Turkish and Israeli officials met in Jerusalem to plan President Herzog's visit to Turkey, Feb. 17, 2022.

A senior Turkish delegation, headed by İbrahim Kalın, Spokesperson and Senior Adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Deputy Foreign Minister Sadat Onal, visited Israel on Thursday and met with Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz and the CEO of President Isaac Herzog’s Office Eyal Shviki, and their teams.

In meetings held at both the Foreign Ministry and the President’s Residence, the parties discussed preparations for the visit of President Herzog to Turkey and bilateral ties between the two countries, as well as various regional issues.

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Turkey and Israel have broad influence in the region, and both have agreed that the rehabilitation of relations can contribute to regional stability. During the meeting at the President’s Residence, President Herzog entered the conference room and welcomed the guests from Turkey.

The visit by a senior delegation from Turkey reciprocates Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz’s visit to Turkey in December 2021, during which the discussions about the President’s visit began.

Relations between the two countries have known ups and downs, however, Turkey is one of the only countries in Asia that has never severed its ties with Israel.

In August 2020, after the signing of the normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (the Abraham Agreements), Turkey announced its opposition to the agreement and the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a message saying “history will not forgive the UAE for the agreement,” and “the Palestinians have the right to respond to the agreement as strongly as they wish.”

The ministry later announced it was considering closing its embassy in the UAE (but not in Israel).

Against the background of the Turkish opposition to the UAE-Israel agreement, the Netanyahu government announced its support for Greece in its dispute with Turkey after Turkish intrusions into the territorial waters of Greece.

In December 2020, President Erdoğan said: “Israeli policy is unacceptable, but we are interested in strengthening relations.”

Another positive change occurred with the appointment of Isaac Herzog as President of Israel when Erdoğan called to congratulate him.

On November 9, 2021, an Israeli couple was arrested after photographing the Turkish presidential residence, to which Israel’s National Security Agency responded with a travel warning to Turkey that negatively affected Israeli tourism. On November 18, 2021, the couple was released and returned to Israel.

On the same day, a conversation took place between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and President Erdoğan, the first since 2013.

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