Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel is interested in the normalization of ties with Turkey, as well as with all its neighbors, but this is a “two way street,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday.
Netanyahu’s comments, during a tour of the security fence going up along the Jordanian border, came on the same day Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, met in Turkey with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Asked if Hoenlein was bringing a message from Jerusalem, Netanyahu said, “I will be happy to hear what they told him.”
Hoenlein was joined in his meeting by some 20 other heads of US Jewish organizations. The meeting comes about two months after a secret one in Geneva in mid-December between senior Turkish and Israeli officials that sources in the Prime Minister’s Office said at the time put Ankara and Jerusalem on the brink of normalizing ties.
That normalization, however, has not yet materialized.
The Daily Hurriyet website on Tuesday said Erdogan’s meeting with “influential Jewish lobbying groups” in the US is “a sign of Ankara’s willingness to normalize bilateral ties with Israel.”
The report also said that Turkish Jewish Community President Ishak Ibrahimzadeh took part in the closed-door meeting at Erdogan’s presidential palace.
Hoenlein was in Jerusalem last week, and his organization will be holding its annual meeting in Jerusalem next week.
In December Erdogan, whose country is increasingly isolated in the international arena, made his first conciliatory statement toward the Jewish state in years, saying the region needs a normalization of Turkish- Israeli ties, and that it “has a lot to offer to us, to Israel, to Palestine and also to the region.”
According to government sources, US Vice President Joe Biden is actively involved in trying to push forward reconciliation, using the possibility of a natural gas pipeline from Israel to Turkey as a common-interest issue that might bring the states together.
Netanyahu met Biden last month in Davos before the vice president went to Turkey and met with Erdogan.