Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu arrived in Israel on Wednesday morning after visiting the Palestinian territories on Tuesday. This is the first visit of a Turkish minister in Israel in 15 years.
Cavusoglu met with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and the two agreed to renew talks to allow Israeli airlines to fly directly to Turkey and to renew the activities of the Joint Economic Commission. In his statement, Lapid hailed a "new chapter" in Israel-Turkey relations.
"Following the Abraham Accords, a new partnership of strength has been created in the Middle East against terror, against attempts to undermine stability... We are fighting terror with determination, and we expect our friends to cooperate with us in this battle," Lapid said.
Cavusoglu referred to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, asserting that a two-state solution is the only solution to it. He added that he believed the revival of relations between Turkey and Israel would have a positive effect on the conflict.
Lapid also took the opportunity to speak on U.S. President Joe Biden's decision not to remove the Iran Revolutionary Guards from the list of terror organizations. "I want to take this opportunity to thank President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken for their decision to keep the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps on the list of terrorist organizations subjected to sanctions. In recent months, Prime Minister Bennett, Defense Minister Gantz, and I have worked closely with the Americans on this matter, and the American decision is further proof of the unbreakable alliance between us and the United States, an alliance based on deeply held shared values and core strategic interests," Lapid said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Cavusoglu visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Center in Jerusalem and said at the end of his tour that the site "reminds us of our shared responsibility to do our best, so that humanity suffers such atrocities 'never again.' Racism and xenophobia remain as serious threats, and Turkey vows to continue its combat against antisemitism, Islamophobia, and all forms of intolerance."
"We take pride in the fact that not only was Turkey a safe haven for those who fled persecution, but also Turkish diplomats saved countless Jewish lives, risking their own," he said.
Cavusoglu also had a working lunch with Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov, and then prayed at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, in what was described as a private visit, meaning no Israeli officials or forces accompanied him at the holy site.
Cavusoglu's visit, the first of its kind in 15 years, marks a warming of ties between Israel and Turkey.
On Tuesday, Cavusoglu met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki in Ramallah. Following his meeting with Maliki, Çavuşoğlu said that warming ties with Israel will not diminish Turkish support for the Palestinians. He added that reports of violence on the Temple Mount have angered the Turkish government. Turkey and the PA signed nine cooperation agreements on Tuesday in areas including economics, trade and infrastructure – including an agreement on developing an industrial area in Jenin.
Talks between Israel and Turkey have focused on mutual efforts to improve relations and an attempt to return ambassadors to one another's capitals. "For almost a year, a gradual process of improving relations has been underway between Israel and Turkey, rebuilding confidence and expanding diplomatic channels of dialogue," Dr. Nimrod Goren, the president of Mitvim – The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, said Tuesday.
“After the successful visit of President Herzog in Turkey, the visit of the Turkish foreign minister in Israel puts the ball in the political court. The visit is being held after Israel and Turkey have managed to contain the disputes and tension surrounding the month of Ramadan and the wave of terrorism, something that they have not always succeeded in doing in the past,” added Goren.