Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer on Wednesday called on Turkey to again serve as a mediator between Israel and Syria. At a meeting with incoming Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Oguz Celikkol, Ben-Eliezer said that "Turkey has an important role to play in Israel's relations with the people of the region," stressing that Ankara "should serve as a mediator between Israel and Syria, and between Israel and the Palestinians, so that we can resume the peace process to which we are committed." The minister said that despite recent tensions, he remained "a big believer" in Jerusalem-Ankara ties. "These are ties of deep friendship, ties that are the basis for a strategic partnership between the countries. Despite the ups and downs in relations, I am a big believer in these ties and in the need to fully restore them," said Ben-Eliezer. Later in November, Ben-Eliezer is set to visit Turkey together with a group of Israeli businessmen. The minister expressed hope that the trip would lead to improved political and diplomatic ties, in addition to strengthening business and commerce. "There is extensive trade between the countries, and many Turkish firms are investing in Israel. We must enhance these ties to improve the economic well-being of both countries," Ben-Eliezer concluded in a statement. In 2008, trade between Israel and Turkey surpassed $3.5 billion.