Lapid, Erdogan talk as rapprochement continues

Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke on the phone on Sunday, as relations between Jerusalem and Ankara continued to improve.

A Turkish flag flutters atop the Turkish embassy as an Israeli flag is seen nearby, in Tel Aviv, Israel June 26, 2016 (photo credit: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER)
A Turkish flag flutters atop the Turkish embassy as an Israeli flag is seen nearby, in Tel Aviv, Israel June 26, 2016
(photo credit: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke on the phone on Sunday, as relations between Jerusalem and Ankara continued to improve.

Erdogan wished Lapid luck in the premiership and praised him for a successful visit to Ankara, which Lapid made last month, as foreign minister.

Lapid wished Erdogan and all of Turkey a happy holiday, two days after Eid al-Adha.

Turkey and Israel against Iran

The prime minister also thanked Erdogan for Turkey’s cooperation in thwarting Iranian terrorist plots against Israeli tourists in Istanbul last month.

 Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog shake hands during a joint new conference in Ankara. (credit: PRESIDENTiAL PRESS OFFICE/REUTERS) Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog shake hands during a joint new conference in Ankara. (credit: PRESIDENTiAL PRESS OFFICE/REUTERS)

“The two leaders emphasized in their conversation that Israel-Turkey relations are very important to the security, economy and stability of the Middle East,” the Prime Minister’s Office readout states.

“The two leaders emphasized in their conversation that Israel-Turkey relations are very important to the security, economy and stability of the Middle East.”

Statement by the Prime Ministers Office

They also welcomed the aviation agreement signed between their countries last week, allowing Israeli airlines to fly to Turkey.

President Isaac Herzog has spoken with Erdogan several times since entering office last year, including on Thursday, to wish him a happy Eid al-Adha.

Israel and Turkey's history

Israel and Turkey had poor relations for over a decade, reaching their nadir in the wake of the 2010 Mavi Marmara raid, in which IDF commandos boarded a ship seeking to break the blockade on Gaza. In the ensuing hand-to-hand combat, the commandos killed nine armed activists from an organization affiliated with Erdogan.

In recent years, though, Turkey sought to rebuild relations with Israel, and the efforts gained steam after Herzog took office. The president visited Ankara earlier this year, and Lapid met with his Turkish then-counterpart Mevlüt Çavusoglu, who also visited Jerusalem. The foreign ministers discussed reinstating ambassadors. 

In addition, the cooperation to stop Iran-backed attempts to kidnap and kill Israelis in Istanbul, which resulted in over 10 arrests, brought the countries closer.

The Economy and Industry Ministry announced plans last week to reopen the Israeli trade office in Istanbul, after closing it in 2019.