Turkey close to restore full diplomatic relations with Israel

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Turkey close to restore full diplomatic relations with IsraelLondon (The Muslim News): Turkey appears set to restore full diplomatic relations with Israel in a move that could come as early as this week following a surprise visit by President Isaac Herzog to Ankara less than three weeks ago.

The rapprochement comes as Turkey has been acting as an intermediary in hosting ceasefire talks between Russia and Ukraine but no direct link has been made that there is any necessary connection.

Returning from a NATO summit in Brussels last week, Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, suggested that his Israeli counterpart Naftali Bennett could follow in Herzog’s footsteps as part of the process to restore relations for the first time since US President Donald Trump controversially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“There may be a chance to start a new era in Turkey-Israel ties,” Erdogen said, adding that “one of the most important steps we can take together for bilateral ties, I believe, would be cooperation in natural gas.”

The previous time the two countries restored relations back in 2016 was short-lived but the hope then was that it could pave way for an undersea pipeline for Turkish companies to buy Israeli natural gas.

Turkey’s state news agency, Anadolu Agency, quoted that members of the country’s Jewish community were pleased with ongoing steps to normalize bilateral relations with Israel and believed that particularly significant was Herzog’s recent visit, the first by an Israeli head of state in 14 years.

An article in the Times of Israel has suggested that Herzog’s visit to Turkey on March 9 hoping to reboot bilateral relations with Turkey could be as important as when former Israeli President, Shimon Peres, addressed Turkey’s Parliament two years after Erdogan set foot in Israel for the first and only time in 2005.

By Hamed Chapman