Israel Still Cool to Erdogan Overtures


Israel has issued no official reaction to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent suggestion of a meeting in Ankara with President Isaac Herzog, and indeed the Foreign Ministry remains wary.

Speaking off the record, Israeli officials have confirmed talks about such a visit, possibly in February, but nothing has been decided as yet.

An Israeli official quoted by Haaretz described the potential meeting as an “indicator” of the Turkish leader’s intentions, which could serve as a “testing ground” for the improvement of ties with Turkey.

“A meeting at the presidential level is… a tool that can be used,” he said. “The president is a symbolic figure, not a political one, and in any case, Herzog is conducting his own talks with the Turks. One can start with such a channel and then check the developments and implications, all at a slow pace.”

Another official said: “The decision is being formed to change ties with Turkey from ‘frozen’ to ‘cool.’ All kinds of symbolic things can happen. For example, an exchange of ambassadors or economic deals. But we won’t move ahead without clear things in return from Turkey.”

“Erdogan is showing very positive signals in fighting terror and in his actions vis-à-vis Hamas in Turkey,” the official said. “This is very significant because from our perspective, this is one of the main issues that prevent us from upgrading relations – the fact that he hosts a terror organization.”

Another possible impediment to a diplomatic thaw is Turkey’s hostility to the development of economic and defense ties between Israel, Greece and Cyprus. The Israel officials said that the tripartite alliance will not be sacrificed for the sake of better relations with Turkey.

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