Erdogan Says Turkey Wants Better Ties With Israel

Turkey's president says ties could be different if not for 'issues with people at the top level,' calls Israel's Palestinian policy 'unacceptable'

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to his ruling party's lawmakers, in Ankara, Turkey, Dec. 23. 2020.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to his ruling party's lawmakers, in Ankara, Turkey, Dec. 23. 2020.Credit: Turkish Presidency via AP, Pool

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey would like to have better ties with Israel, adding that talks at intelligence level continued between the two sides.

The two countries have had a bitter falling out in recent years, despite strong commercial ties, expelling ambassadors in 2018. Ankara has repeatedly condemned Israel's occupation in the West Bank and its treatment of Palestinians.

Speaking to reporters after Friday prayers in Istanbul, Erdogan said Turkey had issues with "people at the top level" in Israel and that ties could have been "very different" if it were not for those issues."The Palestine policy is our red line. It is impossible for us to accept Israel's Palestine policies. Their merciless acts there are unacceptable," Erdogan said."If there were no issues at the top level, our ties could have been very different," he added. "We would like to bring our ties to a better point."

On Wednesday, Erdogan said Turkey hopes to "turn a new page" in its ties with the United States and European Union, and that Ankara had been subjected to double standards by both its NATO ally Washington and the bloc.

This month Washington sanctioned Turkey over its acquisition of Russian S-400 missile defenses, and the EU also prepared punitive measures over Turkey's dispute with members Greece and Cyprus over Mediterranean offshore rights. The bloc decided to postpone the measures until March.

Speaking to lawmakers from his ruling AK Party, Erdogan said "artificial agendas" tested Turkey's ties with the EU and United States in 2020, but he hoped things would improve.

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