Turkey's Erdogan tells Jewish leaders he plans to visit Israel

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Jewish leaders that he planned to visit Israel and that antisemitism is "a crime against humanity."

 Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan greets people during the opening ceremony of Eurasia Tunnel in Istanbul, Turkey, December 20, 2016.  (photo credit: REUTERS/MURAD SEZER)
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan greets people during the opening ceremony of Eurasia Tunnel in Istanbul, Turkey, December 20, 2016.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MURAD SEZER)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a group of Jewish leaders that he planned to visit Israel, the clearest sign so far that he is intent on resetting a long-troubled relationship.

Erdogan also told a room full of leaders of American Jewish organizations that antisemitism is a “crime against humanity,” a meeting participant told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The meeting Monday afternoon, convened under the auspices of the Turkish embassy and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, took place in New York City, where the United Nations General Assembly has gathered global diplomats this week.

Erdogan did not say when he would visit.

Turkey and Israel restore diplomatic ties

Turkey and Israel last month announced that they planned to restore full diplomatic ties, which have been ruptured since 2010, when Israel carried out a deadly raid on a Turkish vessel attempting to breach an Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Turkey in March.

President Isaac Herzog met with Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara March 9, 2022. (credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)President Isaac Herzog met with Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara March 9, 2022. (credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)

Erdogan is seeking to tighten ties with the West as Russia drags on its war against Ukraine. He also wants to make sure Turkey is involved in energy exploration development in the eastern Mediterranean, which until now has been led by Israel and Greece.

Israel is seeking to build on the 2020 Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and four Arab countries. Israel hopes to add other Arab and Muslim-majority countries to the accords, a goal that enhanced relations with Turkey would facilitate.

In addition, as one of the countries to maintain direct ties with Hamas, the militant group controlling the Gaza Strip, Turkey has proven a valued intermediary for Israel in its quest to ease tensions along its Gaza border.

On Sunday, the Turkish government’s official Twitter account posted on Twitter a video of Erdogan strolling through Central Park which included a cheerful encounter with a rabbi, Rachel Goldenberg, of Queens.