Turkey: Palestinian issue could affect ‘sustainable’ relations with Israel

In a move of rapprochement, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog last month met with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

By Sharon Wrobel, The Algemeiner

Turkey seeks to attain “sustainable” relations with Israel, its top diplomat said Wednesday, while emphasizing that ties will depend on Israeli policies towards the Palestinians.

Speaking to a group of five Israeli journalists in Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu cautioned that an Israeli-Palestinian crisis could adversely affect the process of normalization between Turkey and Israel.

“We expect the Israeli side to respect international law regarding the Palestinian issue so that relations between us are sustainable,” Çavuşoğlu was cited as saying by Israel’s Kan broadcaster.

Relations between Israel and Turkey have been on hold since the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident, which saw the death of 10 Turkish activists aboard a ship attempting to breach the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza, and since another rupture in 2018 after the U.S. moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Çavuşoğlu said relations between the two countries since 1949 have seen “ups and downs,” blaming Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, but remarked that momentum is growing amid the recent dialogue.

In a move of rapprochement, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog last month met with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, becoming the first Israeli head of state to visit Turkey since 2008. The two agreed to discuss new mechanisms for working out disagreements, to prevent a future deterioration in relations.

In the meeting with Israeli journalists on Wednesday, Çavuşoğlu condemned the recent terrorist attacks in Israel, as well the killing of a Palestinian woman this week.

He also reiterated interest in energy cooperation, stating that “there is great potential on the issue — and Israel should have an interest in promoting it.”

In previous encounters with Israeli officials, Erdoğan has revived a long-sought interest in energy cooperation to transfer Israeli natural gas to Turkey, and from there to Europe.

Çavuşoğlu further called on Israeli tourists to return to visiting Turkey, “including my hometown of Antalya — I remember the Israeli tourists coming to the area I grew up in.”