Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan .
(photo credit: GERARD FOUET / AFP)
WASHINGTON - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday he expected a meeting of Turkish and Israeli officials next month to yield positive results, after the sides collaborated closely following a bomb attack in Istanbul that killed Israeli tourists.
The suicide bombing, blamed on Islamic State, that killed three Israeli tourists and an Iranian in central Istanbul on March 19 was not just an attack aimed at Israel, Erdogan also said in a speech at the Brookings Institute think tank.
Shortly after the Istanbul attack, in his first conversation with an Israeli leader in three years, Erdogan told President Reuven Rivlin after the Istanbul attack that Turkey is “ready to cooperate with Israel against terrorism.”
Erdogan’s remark to Rivlin comes even as Turkey continues to support and house Hamas, an issue that has turned into the main obstacle preventing a reconciliation between Ankara and Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, asked about the ties with Turkey at a press conference earlier this month in Jerusalem, said there is cooperation between the two states.
“We always wanted proper ties with Turkey, and we are not the ones who changed that direction,” he said. “If it is possible, we will normalize ties. There are contacts, they are taking place, they are even making progress. There will certainly be another meeting soon. I hope that it will lead to the positive result of a reestablishment of full ties.
Erdogan’s conversation with Rivlin was his first talk with an Israeli leader since Netanyahu called him on March 22, 2013, on the last day of US President Barack Obama’s visit that year to Israel, to offer a conditional apology for the Mavi Marmara incident that poisoned Israeli- Turkish ties. Obama brokered the call in the hope that it would pave the way at normalizing relations between the two countries, something that has still not materialized.
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