Turkey's Erdogan Says Israel's Herzog to Visit Next Month

Over the past two years, Erdogan has been working to strengthen ties, but Israel has been wary

Jonathan Lis
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a cabinet meeting in Ankara, Turkey in May
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a cabinet meeting in Ankara, Turkey in MayCredit: Mustafa Kamaci / AP
Jonathan Lis

Israel's President Isaac Herzog will visit Turkey before mid-February and a new page will be opened in their strained bilateral relations, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.

There was no confirmation from Herzog's office.

In an interview with broadcaster NTV, Erdogan also said his visit to the United Arab Emirates on February 14 will represent a new period in ties between two countries as Ankara seeks to thaw relations with Gulf states.

Last week, Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spoke on the phone with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, the first between Turkish and Israeli foreign ministers since 2008.

Over the past two years, Erdogan has been working to strengthen Turkish relations with Israel. However, Israel has been wary of Erdogan’s fickle personality and unwavering support for the Palestinians.

President Isaac Herzog in London, in November.Credit: Justin Tallis / Reuters

“We’re being careful,” a senior Israeli diplomat said. It is possible relations could improve, but slowly and cautiously. Israel suspects Erdogan would use improved relations to help Turkey’s economy and bolster his regional influence.

Last week, after the U.S. decided to rescind its support for the Israeli-Greek EastMed pipeline for economic and environmental reasons, Erdogan called for Israeli-Turkish coordination on a gas pipeline to Europe.

In July, the Israeli government approved the 6 billion Euro EastMed project which would have created a new gas pipeline from Israel and Cyprus to Europe so to lower the dependency on Russian fuel. The project gained traction after Turkey, the largest gas consumer in the region, decided to not purchase gas from its rival Cyprus and Israel.

Since entering his position, President Herzog has had three phone conversations with Erdogan. The first time, Erdogan called to congratulate Herzog on his being elected. The second time, Herzog called Erdogan as part of the efforts to release an Israeli couple that was arrested in Turkey. Earlier this month, Erdogan called to console Herzog after the passing of his mother, Aura.

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