ANKARA, July 14 (Reuters) – Turkey and Israel have agreed to work to improve their strained relations after a rare phone call between their presidents, a spokesperson for Turkey’s ruling AK party said on Wednesday.
The two countries expelled ambassadors in 2018 after a bitter falling out. Ankara condemned Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its treatment of the Palestinians, while Israel called on Turkey to drop its support for the Palestinian militant group Hamas that rules Gaza.
Both parties say the other must act first for any reconciliation.
President Tayyip Erdogan called on the new Israeli president, Isaac Herzog, on Monday to congratulate him on taking office. The presidency of Israel is a largely ceremonial office. Read more
“A framework emerged after this call in which progress should be made on several issues where improvements can be made and where action to address problematic areas should be taken,” spokesman Omer Celik said after a meeting of the AKP party.
Celik pointed to the Palestinians as one of the many issues Turkey wants to discuss with Israel, adding that areas such as tourism and trade should be a “win-win” for both nations. Bilateral trade has remained strong amid political disputes.
During the appeal, which took place a day after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited Ankara, Erdogan told Herzog he appreciated the continued dialogue and said Turkish-Israeli relations were essential for the regional stability.
Erdogan also reiterated his support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, adding that “positive steps” would also help Turkey’s ties with Israel, his office said.
In May, Erdogan called Israel a “terrorist state” after Israeli police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at young Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
Israel accuses Turkey of helping members of Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by Israel and its Western allies.
Turkey has also recently attempted to mend its frayed ties with Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Monday’s call came a month after Naftali Bennett became Israeli prime minister, replacing Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom Erdogan had frequently exchanged spades. Read more
Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Daren Butler Editing by Gareth Jones
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