Herzog calls Erdogan with holiday blessings, lauds warming ties between nations

President Isaac Herzog called President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday to wish him a happy Eid al-Adha and to discuss the growing bilateral relationship between Israel and Turkey.

According to a statement by the president’s office, Herzog “extended his best wishes to President Erdogan, his family, and the Turkish people” for the Muslim holiday set to begin Saturday night, and highlighted recent developments in the relationship between the two countries.

“The presidents expressed their satisfaction with the ongoing security
coordination between Israel and Turkey and voiced their hopes for the further strengthening and promotion of their nations’ relationship,” the statement said, referring to recent coordination against Iranian terror cells planning attacks against Israelis in Turkey.

The conversation came hours after Israel and Turkey signed an outline of a civilian aviation agreement on Thursday, set to replace the current accord dating back to 1951.

Irit Lillian, Israel’s charge d’affaires in Ankara, told The Times of Israel that Thursday’s announcement is a “first step” in the signing of the full aviation agreement.

Earlier this week, Economy Minister Orna Barbivai also announced the reopening of Israel’s economic office in Istanbul, scheduled to resume operations on August 1, after being closed for three years.

Israel and Turkey sign an outline civilian aviation agreement on July 7, 2022. (Boaz Oppenheim/GPO)

For more than a decade, Turkey was one of Israel’s most bitter critics on the international stage. Ankara also took actions that angered officials in Jerusalem, most notably providing support and a haven for the Hamas terror group.

For the past two years, however, Erdogan has struck a noticeably different tone toward Israel, expressing interest in improving ties. Jerusalem and Ankara have been working to move beyond the crisis.

Both Herzog and then-foreign minister Lapid visited Turkey this year, and Israel’s senior leaders have spoken several times with Erdogan. The two sides are focused on signing a range of agreements as part of the upturn in bilateral ties.

Turkey recalled its ambassador and asked Israel’s to leave in May 2018, in the wake of violent protests on the Israel-Gaza border in which dozens of Palestinians were killed. Turkish and Israeli leaders criticized each other bitterly, with Erdogan calling Israel a “child-murdering” country and Netanyahu accusing Erdogan of killing Kurdish civilians.

A new rapprochement process has been underway since May 2020. That month, an El Al cargo plane landed in Turkey for the first time in a decade.

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