Turkish FM Backs Palestinians Ahead of Israel Talks

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

RAMALLAH (Reuters/Hamodia) – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu started a two-day trip to the Palestinian territories and Israel on Tuesday, the first such visit by a senior Turkish official in more than a decade.

Speaking after meeting his Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Maliki in Ramallah, Cavusoglu said Turkish support for the Palestinians would not diminish even as once frozen relations with Israel thawed.

“Our support for the Palestinian cause is completely independent from the course of our relations with Israel,” he told reporters.

Cavusoglu is due to see Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas later on Tuesday, followed by talks on Wednesday with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov.

He was also expected to visit Al-Aqsa Mosque in Yerushalayim on Wednesday.

Cavusoglu said reports of recent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at the site had upset Turkey. “It is important for all Muslims that the sanctity and status of the Al-Aqsa is protected,” he said.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki hailed Cavusoglu’s visit as “historical,” with Turkey and the Palestinians signing nine cooperation agreements on Tuesday.

“What we heard has reinforced our position and what we do to achieve freedom and independence,” Maliki said after the meeting.

Israel and Turkey have been working to mend their long-strained ties with energy emerging as a key area for potential cooperation. The two countries expelled ambassadors in 2018 and have often traded barbs over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The main topic for talks with Israeli officials will be the restoration of ambassadors, after the two countries expelled one another’s envoys in 2018.

According to Turkish sources, Israel has given Ankara a list of Hamas terrorists Israel wants them to expel from Turkey as a condition for the normalization of ties between the two countries.

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