Israeli president congratulates Erdoğan on religious holiday

Israeli President Isaac Herzog congratulated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the Muslim religious holiday of Eid al-Adha over the phone.

The two leaders also discussed bilateral relations and regional issues, the Turkish president’s office said.

Erdoğan and Herzog reiterated their aim of enhancing ties between the two countries with concrete steps on the basis of mutual respect and through a positive agenda, the presidency’s directorate of communications said in a statement on Thursday.

Turkey and Israel are making tentative steps to mend relations fractured for more than a decade, over Turkey’s condemnation of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, Turkish support for Hamas and disputes over natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean.

Herzog travelled to the Turkish capital Ankara in March to meet with Erdoğan, in a first visit by an Israeli head of state since 2007. Israeli Prime Minister Yiar Lapid – foreign minister at the time – and Turkish Foreign Minister exchanged visits in May and June, outlining steps for “new chapter” in relations.

Çavuşoğlu said Turkey and Israel have begun efforts to raise mutual diplomatic relations to the ambassador’s level, during Lapid’s Ankara visit in June.

Relations between Turkey and Israel were frozen after the deaths of 10 civilians during an Israeli military raid in 2010 on the Turkish Mavi Marmara aid ship, which was seeking to breach an embargo on the Gaza Strip.  In May 2018, Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador and recalled its own envoy in Israel over Israeli attacks on the Palestinian enclave of Gaza and a decision by the United States to move its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. 

On Thursday, the two countries signed a preliminary civil aviation agreement to pave the way for Israeli airlines to resume flights to Turkey, Prime Minister Lapid’s office announced. “The agreement is part of the decision to expand and develop bilateral relations,” the prime ministry’s statement said.


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