Israeli PM Meets Turkish President, First Time In 14 Years

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In this photo provided by the Turkish Presidency, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid during their meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, US, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022. (Turkish Presidency via AP)

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Israel’s prime minister has met with Turkey’s president for the first time in 14 years, the latest sign of warming ties between the two regional powers after a long and bitter rift.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said he met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, the largest annual gathering of world leaders now underway in New York.

In his meeting with Erdogan, Lapid said he “commended” the recent restoration of full diplomatic ties between the countries and the appointment this week of a new Israeli ambassador to Turkey.

In 2018, Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Israel and ousted Israel’s ambassador after IDF soldiers opened fire on Hamas operatives during a violent protest on the Israel-Gaza border. Relations first frayed in 2010 after Israeli commandos were violently attacked by Turkish terrorists on the Mavi Marmara ship, part of a flotilla that breached Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza.

But following Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s state visit to Turkey in March and other signs of a thaw, the two countries agreed to exchange ambassadors. The countries still share various strategic interests, including containing Iran.

During their meeting in New York, Lapid thanked Erodgan for intelligence cooperation against Iranian attempts to carry out attacks in Turkey and brought up the issue of missing and captive Israelis, his office said.

The leaders also discussed energy cooperation, the statement added. Erdogan has expressed an interest in Turkey tapping into Israel’s offshore natural gas fields in the Mediterranean.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem & AP)