Israel's Lapid set to visit Turkey despite political turbulence at home

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is set to visit Ankara on Thursday to meet his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu despite the political troubles at home, the Times of Israel reported on Tuesday, citing the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

The visit, which was announced on Sunday, will take place despite Monday’s announcement by coalition leaders of the intention to call snap elections, the Times of Israel said.

Questions loomed around the upcoming visit of Lapid, who is slated to become prime minister upon the finalisation of the Knesset’s disbandment, it said, but the Israeli official is pushing through with scheduled plans.

Lapid’s visit arrives as Turkey and Israel are seeking a thaw in relations following a decade of tensions. 

Last month,  Çavuşoğlu held meetings with Lapid in Israel as part of efforts to repair relations marred by disagreements over Turkey’s support for Hamas, which is recognised as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union, and tensions over mineral exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean. It was the first visit by a senior Turkish official to Israel in about a decade and a half.

The pair are slated to discuss cooperation on thwarting Iranian attempts to harm Israeli travellers in Turkey, as revenge for the killing of Iranian officers inside Iran, which the latter blames Israel for, Times of Israel said.

There are reports that the sides may discuss resuming ambassadorial representation in each other’s capitals, it said.

Israel and Turkey have not exchanged ambassadors since a falling out in May 2018 over the killing of dozens of Palestinian protesters by Israeli forces amid the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

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