A woman passes by an election poster of Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul, Turkey.
(photo credit: ALKIS KONSTANTINIDIS / REUTERS)
Israel and Turkey are in discreet talks to improve relations and exchange ambassadors next month, according to a Yediot Aharonot report on Monday.
Ties between the two countries went into a tailspin in May when Turkey recalled its ambassador and expelled Israel’s envoy following violence along the Gaza fence where 61 Palestinians, most of them affiliated with Hamas, were killed.
Israel responded by expelling Turkey’s consul-general in Jerusalem, and a war of words erupted between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an acrid critic of Israel, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu said Israel would not be lectured to by Erdogan, “a man who sends thousands of Turkish soldiers to sustain the occupation of northern Cyprus, who invades Syria … [and] whose hands are dripping with the blood of countless Kurds in Turkey and Syria.”
According to the Yediot report, the Israeli Foreign Ministry recently issued an internal tender to fill the position of ambassador to Turkey in the summer of 2019. The paper also reported in July that Turkey had returned its commercial attaché
to its embassy in Tel Aviv, after an absence of a number of years.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman would not confirm the Yediot report.
Israel and Turkey exchanged ambassadors in 2016, after a five-year period following the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident in which the countries did not have full diplomatic ties.
A number of factors have been cited as leading to Turkey’s interest in improving ties with Israel, including the winding down of the seven-year Syrian civil war and a common concern by both countries about Iranian entrenchment in Syria, as well as the economic crisis in Turkey and fall of the Turkish lira.
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