President Isaac Herzog will fly out on Wednesday to address the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The forum has, in past years, been addressed by then-president Shimon Peres and then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In January 2009, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was then his country’s prime minister, walked angrily off the stage after a heated exchange with Peres during a panel discussion on Gaza. Erdogan was livid because he had not been given a chance to respond adequately to what Peres had said, due to the time-lapse. Panel discussions in Davos are limited to one hour, and there simply was no time left for Erdogan to have his say.
Relations between Turkey and Israel began to sour following the Israeli commando raid on the so-called Gaza Freedom Flotilla on May 31, 2010, and grew increasingly worse with the recall of the Turkish ambassador in 2018, after several Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in a violent protest against the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.
Relations continued to deteriorate until soon after Herzog’s election to the presidency, after which Erdogan was among world leaders who congratulated him. This led to telephone conversations between the two and ultimately to Herzog’s state visit to Turkey this past March and the current visit to Israel by Turkish Foreign Minister Nevlut Cavusoglu, which is yet another sign of reconciliation.
The World Economic Conference in Davos is an opportunity for global statesmen, political leaders and heads of multi-national business enterprises to get together and exchange ideas. Peres usually stayed for the whole conference, but Herzog will be in Switzerland for only one day and will return to Israel on Wednesday evening.