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Erdoğan: Netanyahu to visit Turkey before December

The Turkish president plans to visit the Jewish state in return.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan meet at the Turkish House in New York, Sept. 19, 2023. Photo by Avi Ohayon/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan meet at the Turkish House in New York, Sept. 19, 2023. Photo by Avi Ohayon/GPO.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to visit Turkey in the next two months, becoming the first Israeli premier to do so since 2008, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s office announced on Tuesday.

Erdoğan plans to visit the Jewish state in return, his office announced.

The Turkish president may mark the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic, which falls on Oct. 29, at the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Erdoğan first invited Netanyahu to Ankara in July, but that state visit was postponed after the prime minister had to undergo surgery to implant a cardiac pacemaker.

Turkey’s renewed invitation comes days after Netanyahu and Erdoğan met on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly annual general debate in New York. During the Sept. 19 meeting, the two leaders extended invitations to visit Israel and Turkey, respectively.

Netanyahu told Erdoğan that “our ties are improving,” and the two men agreed to continue advancing bilateral relations in trade, economic matters and energy, according to a readout from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Jerusalem and Ankara announced the restoration of full diplomatic ties last summer, with then-Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid saying the move would “contribute to deepening ties between the two peoples, expanding economic, trade and cultural ties, and strengthening regional stability.”

Some nine months ago, Irit Lillian presented her credentials to Erdoğan, becoming the first Israeli ambassador to Turkey since 2018.

Nevertheless, significant points of contention between the two countries remain. Most notably, Hamas maintains its operational headquarters on Turkish soil, which it uses to orchestrate and fund terrorism in Judea and Samaria.

While Erdoğan has expelled a handful of Hamas members from Turkey in recent months, his foreign minister late last year reaffirmed that Ankara does “not see Hamas as a terrorist organization.”

Two months ago, Turkish counterintelligence announced that it had detained seven alleged Mossad agents on suspicion of espionage. The suspects, who carried passports of various Middle Eastern countries, were reportedly members of a 56-member team that was part of a larger network.

On July 26, Turkey hosted Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas alongside Hamas terrorist leader Ismail Haniyeh. Sources close to the Fatah party and Hamas said that the Ankara meeting focused on unity between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah faction.

In a separate announcement on Tuesday, the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem said Netanyahu would be visiting the Czech Republic between Oct. 8 and 10. The visit is to include a meeting between the two Cabinets, Netanyahu’s office announced.

Earlier this year, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen first visited Prague for meetings with Czech leaders to discuss countering the Iranian nuclear threat, among other topics.

The Central European country chairs the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors, with Ambassador Ivo Sramek occupying the position for 2022-23.

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