Erdoğan tells Jewish leaders of plans to visit Israel

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday said he planned to visit Israel, in the strongest indication of his plans to mend ties with the country following a decade of tensions.

The Turkish leader made the remarks during a meeting with American Jewish organizations in New York, where he is attending the United Nations General Assembly, Euronews Turkish reported.

Antisemitism is a “crime against humanity,” the agency cited Erdoğan as telling Jewish leaders in the gathering organised by the Turkish embassy and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, according to the Jerusalem Post said.

Erdoğan’s remarks arrive a day after Israel appointed an ambassador in Turkey for the first time in four years, in move marking the latest step in thawing relations between the two regional powers.

Since last year, Turkey and Israel have been taking tentative steps to mend relations. Bilateral ties between the countries ell into crisis in 2010 after Israeli soldiers raided a Gaza-bound humanitarian aid flotilla, killing ten pro-Palestinian activists aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara.  Turkey’s close ties with the militant Islamist group Hamas, designated as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States and the European Union, has been a key stumbling block to restoring diplomatic ties.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog met with Erdoğan in Ankara in March, marking the first visit by an Israeli head of state since 2007. 

Erdoğan is set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, the Times of Israel reported on Saturday.

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