Herzog warmly welcomed in Turkey, Hamas ‘concerned’

The president arrived on a plane decorated with the words “peace,” “future” and “partnership” in Hebrew, Turkish and English.

By World Israel News Staff

President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog arrived Wednesday for a state visit to Turkey at the invitation of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Herzog is the first Israeli leader to visit Turkey since 2008.

The president arrived on a plane decorated with the words “peace,” “future” and “partnership” in Hebrew, Turkish and English.

“Israel-Turkey relations are important for Israel, important for Turkey, and important for the whole region. And for the first time in many years, there will be a visit to Turkey,” Herzog said before taking off.

“Certainly at a time when the international order is being shaken, it is good and proper that stability and partnership be maintained in our region, and I emphasized this point during my visits to Greece and Cyprus in recent weeks and in my conversations with leaders.

“We will not agree on everything, and the relationship between Israel and Turkey has certainly known ups and downs and not-so-simple moments in recent years, but we shall try to restart our relations and build them in a measured and cautious manner, and with mutual respect between our states,” he said.

“I always emphasize that my vision is that Jews, Muslims, and Christians will live in peace in our region in a manner that will bring them prosperity and perfect lives,” the president continued.

“My visit is completely coordinated with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and their offices, and I hope that in the wake of my visit, a serious process will begin with Turkey, an in-depth dialogue at various levels, and that ultimately we will see, so I hope, progress in our relations and positive results.”

Erdogan: ‘A turning point in relations’

“This historic visit will be a turning point in relations between Turkey and Israel. Strengthening relations with the State of Israel has great value for our country,” Erdogan told reporters.

Meanwhile, Hamas has published an official proclamation expressing its “concern and sorrow” over the visit of “senior Israeli officials to Arab and Muslim countries,” reports blogger Abu Ali Express.

The terror group, however, refrained from using the word “condemnation” and from mentioning Turkey by name.

One of Telegram’s most influential Hebrew-language channels on Arab affairs, Abu Ali Express notes that Hamas has strategic relations and interests with Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and that Herzog’s visit marks a possible turning point in the cold relations between Israel and Turkey.

“Hamas is fuming but is careful not to attack Erdogan directly,” the blogger said.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad, on the other hand, was more direct. “We strongly condemn the visit of the President of the Zionist Enemy to Turkey,” PIJ stated.