Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent presumptive prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu a congratulations letter on Thursday, setting aside past tensions between their countries when Netanyahu was previously premier.
“I congratulate you on your victory in the election and believe that the new government will continue the cooperation between the countries in all areas, in a way that will bring peace and stability to our region,” Erdogan wrote, according to Netanyahu’s spokesman.
The recovery of Israel-Turkey ties
Israel-Turkey relations began their decline in 2008, when Ehud Olmert was prime minister, but hit their nadir under Netanyahu’s premiership in 2010, in the wake of the Mavi Marmara raid, in which IDF commandos boarded a ship that was aiming 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.
Netanyahu eventually apologized to Erdogan, under pressure from Washington, but diplomatic relations did not recover until last month when Ankara and Jerusalem said they would exchange ambassadors.
The Bennett-Lapid government pursued better ties with Turkey after receiving overtures from Ankara, including phone calls to President Isaac Herzog, who met with Erdogan at his palace in March. Lapid met with Erdogan in Ankara, as well, and the countries cooperated closely to foil an Iran-backed terrorist plot to abduct Israeli tourists in Istanbul this year.
Erdogan said last week that he “expect[s] to sustainably maintain our relations with Israel based on mutual respect for sensitivities and shared interests, no matter how the election turns out. As long as values are respected, I believe win-win diplomacy will benefit not only Turkey and Israel but also the entire region.”
Bibi speaks with leaders from Europe, Middle East
Netanyahu also spoke with United Arab Emirates President Mohammed bin Zayed, who invited him to visit Abu Dhabi.
The Likud leader promised bin Zayed that relations between their countries will continue to flourish.
“We reached a historic peace agreement together and we have much more to achieve for the good of our countries and the whole world,” Netanyahu said. “I will be happy to visit you soon and advance relations between us, dear friend.”
Netanyahu attempted to visit Abu Dhabi several times between the signing of the Abraham Accords, normalizing relations with the UAE and Bahrain, in September 2020, and when he left office in June 2021 but was thwarted repeatedly for various reasons, some political or diplomatic and some related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called Netanyahu, as well.
Netanyahu told Scholz he plans to make peace with more Arab countries and that Germany can play an important part in that process.
He also emphasized that a nuclear Iran is an acute danger to Israel and to the peace of the world.
Netanyahu also spoke with new Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who called to congratulate him. They discussed a possible meeting between their cabinets and Italy’s support for Israel in international fora.