Erdogan and Netanyahu meet in New York as relations show signs of revitalization
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in person for the first time on Tuesday, turning a milestone as two countries have been slowly improving ties strained by disputes over policies toward the Palestinians.
According to a statement released by Netanyahu's office after the meeting which took place during the annual high-level United Nations General Assembly, both leaders have agreed to pay visits to each other's nations in the near future. This gesture comes amid rumors that Erdogan is contemplating marking the centennial celebration of the Turkish republic with a pilgrimage to a prominent mosque in Jerusalem. However, no official confirmation regarding this has been made.
The rapport between Turkey and Israel had taken a nosedive after an incident in 2010 where Israel's forces killed ten Turkish citizens during a raid on a pro-Palestinian activist ship that attempted to bypass the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip, a region overseen by Hamas Islamists, a group deemed as proscribed in the Western world. Following this, a series of reciprocal ambassador expulsions marred relations further between the two nations, with Ankara twice expelling Israel's ambassador over issues related to the Gaza border conflicts.
Nevertheless, a beacon of hope emerged when Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Turkey in March 2022. This visit, complemented by further meetings involving foreign ministers from both nations, fostered a more congenial atmosphere paving the way for potential cooperation.
During their discussion, Erdogan and Netanyahu explored a range of topics encompassing political, economic, and regional issues. They particularly focused on the Israeli-Palestinian matter, as mentioned in a post by the Turkish Presidency on social media platform X. Erdogan emphasized the potential avenues for collaboration in sectors such as energy, technology, innovation, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity.
Furthermore, Turkey's Energy Minister Alparslan Bayraktar, who was present at the meeting, highlighted the prospects of energy cooperation, especially in the spheres of natural gas exploration, production, and trade. Energy seems to be shaping up as a primary frontier where the two nations can collaborate fruitfully.
This meeting can be seen as part of Turkey's strategic move initiated in 2020 to rebuild relationships with several estranged allies including Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.