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Turkey's Erdogan plans to visit Israel after November elections

Turkish president to meet an Israeli prime minister for first time since 2008 on the UN General Assembly sidelines
Israeli President Isaac Herzog (L) stands next to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a news conference in Ankara, on 9 March (AFP)
By Ragip Soylu in Ankara

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to visit Israel after the country’s 1 November parliamentary elections, a senior Turkish official told Middle East Eye.

Erdogan will meet an Israeli prime minister on Tuesday for the first time since 2008, when he met Ehud Olmert in Ankara.  

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office confirmed over the weekend that he would meet Erdogan in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.  

Erdogan, who met Jewish representatives in the US on Monday, has increased his engagements with the Israeli leaders since the two countries decided to repair their ties last year.  

The president hasn’t visited Israel since 2005, when he was prime minister. 

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The two countries last month announced that they had decided to fully restore diplomatic ties and assign ambassadors. Israel has already named Irit Lilian as the next ambassador to Ankara. Turkey has yet to appoint its own ambassador.

When Erdogan met leaders of American Jewish organisations on Monday, he told them that antisemitism is a “crime against humanity”, according to a report by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Relations between Turkey and Israel have been rocky since 2011, when Ankara expelled Israel's ambassador following a UN report into Israel's 2010 raid on the Mavi Marmara aid ship to Gaza, which killed nine Turkish citizens. 

The rift was healed in 2016 when full diplomatic relations were restored and both countries traded ambassadors.

Tensions were renewed in 2018 when Israeli forces killed scores of Palestinians taking part in the Great March of Return protests in the Gaza Strip. The protesters demanded the implementation of refugees’ right of return and an end to the crippling 11-year siege on Gaza. 

Turkey recalled all its diplomats and ordered Israel’s envoy out of the country.

The latest development comes five months after Israel's President Isaac Herzog visited Erdogan in Ankara, in the first visit by an Israeli head of state to Turkey since 2008.

Before that visit, a year of silent Turkish and Israeli intelligence cooperation had convinced Israel that Turkey was a rational actor that acted upon its interests, rather than ideological standpoints.

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