Turkey, Israel agree on boosting ties, defense, security cooperation

Turkey, Israel agree on boosting ties, defense, security cooperation
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Turkish and Israeli Defense Ministers Akar and Gantz met in Ankara, holding talks on improving bilateral relations

Cooperation between Turkey and Israel, especially in areas such as defense, security and energy, will contribute significantly to regional peace and stability, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said.

“We believe that boosting our bilateral cooperation and dialogue will also facilitate the resolution of some issues on which we have disagreements, especially the Palestinian cause,” Akar said during a joint press briefing with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Gantz in Ankara on Thursday.

Gantz travelled to Turkey on the first such visit in over a decade, amid reconciliation efforts between Ankara and Tel-Aviv. The relations between the two countries were deeply fractured more than a decade, over a string of disputed issues, including Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and Turkey’s close ties with Hamas which is designated as a terrorist organisation by Israel and the United States. 

In August, the two governments decided to restore full diplomatic relations and earlier this month, they both named new ambassadors for the first time since 2018. In May 2018, Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador and recalled its own envoy in Tel-Aviv over Israeli attacks on the Palestinians in Gaza. 

Emphasizing that they had a very productive meeting with Gantz, Akar said he has expressed Turkey’s policies and sensitivities to his counterpart clearly.

“In particular, we exchanged information and views on what can be done in terms of further development of stability, cooperation and security in our region,” Akar said. 

“There is a significant background and experience in defense, defense industry, military security and cooperation between Turkey and Israel, thus we shared our mutual views on how we can improve our relations on these issues by taking advantage of our existing experiences in this new era of relations that has just begun,” he said. 

"It's no secret that our relationship has faced tests," Gantz said. 

“Our future looks promising, but it depends on our shared interests in maintaining stability and security in the world and in the region,” he added.

Pointing out that Turkey is one of Israel's five largest trading partners, “The doors have been opened and there is great potential for cooperation in trade, tourism, industry and more,” Gantz said. 

The Israeli minister said there are many areas for cooperation in the future and this includes pursuing diplomatic resolutions to disputes in the region.

“This year, as a result of close and covert contacts, we have succeeded in eliminating an alarming number of threats to Israeli citizens and the Jewish people in Turkey,” Gantz said, thanking to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Defense Minister Akar and the security institutions involved in the cooperation.

“I believe that much more can be done together to lessen the impact of those who destabilize our regions by supporting or waging terrorism against innocent civilians. This also applies to the Palestine and I am confident that the deeper defense ties between our countries can have a positive impact on developments in this issue as well,” Gantz said.

“Our ties with Turkey have turned in a positive direction. To move forward, we must adopt a consistent, positive approach by maintaining open dialogue in our relations,” he said.

Gantz added that he instructed his team to initiate the necessary procedures to resume working relations.