Turkey, Israel want to improve ties after presidents' call: Ruling AKP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog agreed to work towards improving strained ties between the two countries in their July 12 phone call, said a spokesperson for the ruling AKP.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L) and Israeli President Isaac Herzog.


Turkey and Israel have agreed to work towards improving their strained relations after a rare phone call between their presidents, a spokesman for Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) said on July 14. 

The two countries expelled ambassadors in 2018 after a bitter falling-out.

Ankara has condemned Israel's occupation of the West Bank and its treatment of Palestinians, while Israel has called on Turkey to drop support for the militant Palestinian group Hamas which rules Gaza.

Both sides say the other must move first for any rapprochement.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called Israel's new president, Isaac Herzog, on July 12 to congratulate him on taking office. Israel's presidency is a largely ceremonial office.

"A framework emerged after this call under which advances should be made on several issues where improvements can be made, and where steps towards solving problematic areas should be taken," spokesman Ömer Çelik said after an AKP meeting.

Çelik singled out the Palestinians as one of 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 the political disputes.

During the call, which came a day after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited Ankara, Erdoğan told Herzog he valued maintaining dialogue and said Turkish-Israeli relations were key for regional stability.

Erdoğan also reiterated his support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, adding "positive steps" would also help Turkey's ties with Israel, his office said.

In May, Erdoğan called Israel a "terror state" after Israeli police shot rubber bullets and stun grenades towards Palestinian youths at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque.

Israel accuses Turkey of aiding members of Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by Israel and its Western allies.

Turkey has also recently been trying to repair its frayed ties with Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

The July 12 call came a month after Naftali Bennett became Israeli prime minister, replacing Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom Erdoğan had frequently traded barbs.