Israeli, Turkish defence chiefs to meet for first time in a decade

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz is set to visit Turkey next week, the Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday, in the latest step in thawing relations between the regional rivals.

Gantz will meet with his counterpart Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar in Ankara, in the first visit by an Israeli defence minister to the country in a decade, days before Israel’s election, the newspaper said.

Turkey and Israel are attempting to repair bilateral relations that have been strained for a decade due to Turkish support for Hamas, its criticism of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and differences over energy policy in the eastern Mediterranean, among other issues.

The two regional powers had expelled ambassadors in 2018 and in August announced that they would reinstate full diplomatic relations after a gradual months-long period of improvement in relations. The countries have since appointed ambassadors.

Gantz’ Turkey visit comes after a visit to Turkey’s close ally, Azerbaijan, the Jerusalem Post said, and a visit to Baku by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Thursday.

Israel’s Director of the Policy and POL-MIL Bureau Brig.-Gen. (res.) Dror Shalom in August  visited Turkey in a bid to “reopen channels for defense ties between the countries,’’ the Jerusalem Post cited the country’s defence ministry as saying. 

“During the meetings, the parties agreed on the topics that will be discussed by the Ministers,” the ministry said.

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