Herzog Sends Well-wishes to COVID-stricken Erdogan, Teases Turkey Visit

Although Erdogan had announced last month that the Israeli president would be visiting Ankara, this is the first time that Herzog's office confirmed the news

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Jaffa in September.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Jaffa in September.Credit: Hadas Parush
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

President Isaac Herzog spoke on the phone with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday, and wished the Turkish leader a speedy recovery from COVID.

Erdogan, a press release from Herzog's office said, thanked Herzog for his concern. The Turkish president announced that he and his wife had tested positive for the coronavirus "with mild symptoms" on Saturday.

The phone call is the fourth between the two presidents since Herzog's term began in July, but this is the first one that the Israeli president initiated.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a joint news conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv, Ukrain, last week.Credit: VALENTYN OGIRENKO/ REUTERS

Last month, Erdogan announced that Herzog will be visiting Turkey amid strained Turkish-Israeli ties. On Saturday, Erdogan said that Herzog would arrive in mid-March.

Although Erdogan had announced several times that Herzog would be visiting Ankara, Sunday marks the first time that the Israeli president's office acknowledged a "possible visit."

Last week, Israeli sources said that Herzog had likely not responded to Erdogan's invitation due to Israel's suspicion of recent Turkish efforts to warm relations between the two countries.

While the President’s Residence in Jerusalem has declined to comment until Sunday, Bennett has in fact provided a glimpse into the reservations of Israeli politicians regarding Turkish efforts at a rapprochement.

“I don’t rule out the meeting of our president with Erdogan,” Bennett had told Haaretz’s Yossi Verter. He expressed doubts about Turkey’s intentions but said he prefers to “play in all courts, to lead to stability in the Middle East and focus efforts on Iran.

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