Photo Credit: Boaz Oppenheim
Israeli Foreign Minister / Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu brief reporters at a news conference in Ankara on June 23, 2022

Israeli Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid told reporters Thursday at a briefing in Ankara that Israel is “confident that Türkiye knows how to respond to the Iranians” on the issue of attempt terrorist attacks against Israelis in the country.

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Last week – on June 17 – Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (Millî İstihbarat Teşkilatı, MİT) and police thwarted an attempt by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence SAVAMA to kidnap and attack Israeli diplomats and tourist groups in Istanbul, the country’s Hurriyet Daily News reported a few hours before the briefing.

Turkey Thwarts Attempt to Kidnap Former Israeli Ambassador

According to the report, an Iranian terror cell planned to kidnap a former Israeli ambassador and his wife, whose identities have not been released.

Nine suspects, including local collaborators, were detained in the joint operation conducted by MİT and police.

Lapid noted the lives of Israeli citizens have been saved in recent weeks “thanks to security and diplomatic cooperation between Israel and Türkiye,” adding that Iran is behind the attempted terrorist attacks. “The intelligence leaves no doubt about it,” he said.

“For its part, Israel won’t sit idly by when there are attempts to harm its citizens in Israel and around the world,” he added.

Lapid said that in Israel’s view that it is “very important that in the coming weeks, we finish the process we began” during Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s visit to Jerusalem, “to allow Israeli airlines to fly directly to both Istanbul and the Turkish coast.”

Both he and his Turkish counterpart told reporters the two sides have begun holding discussions on returning their ambassadors to their posts in each country “in the near future,” and on “improving our economic and political dialogue.”

Cavusoglu noted in his remarks that both sides plan to continue dialogue on energy and “continue with options on cooperation.” He noted that both sides engaged in full cooperation and were in continuous contact and sharing information with each other on the terrorist threat to Israeli citizens in the country.

“We can never allow such things to unfold in our country,” Cavusoglu said. “It is not possible for us to allow any terror attack to take place in our country and the messages for that were already given.”

The Turkish diplomat added, “Of course, the issue of Palestine and Israel was on our agenda just like it was on our agenda during my visit to Jerusalem]. We expressed our expectations and sensitivities and the Israeli side knows all those very well because during each and every talk we share our sensitivity for the two-state solution.

“In order for the hopes of peace not to be harmed both parties need to take steps ahead cautiously and we need to refrain – avoid – from steps that would harm the peace process,” Cavusoglu said.

“This visit, I believe, will further improve Turkey-Israel relations and in such a time on such a day of turmoil, the fact that the foreign minister, Mr. Lapid paid a visit to Turkey is very pleasing for us… We will continue with our dialogue and cooperation for the days to come.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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