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Netanyahu to visit Ankara, first premier to do so since 2008

Turkey will also host Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, who will fly to Ankara on July 25.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Source: Turkish Presidency via Twitter.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Source: Turkish Presidency via Twitter.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to travel to Turkey for an official visit on July 28, the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed on Thursday.

Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan plan to discuss bilateral ties and steps to improve relations, Erdoğan’s office added in a statement, in what is set to be the first-ever meeting between the two leaders.

No Israeli premier has visited Turkey since Ehud Olmert in 2008.

The announcement came just 24 hours after King Mohammed VI of Morocco invited Netanyahu to visit the North African country for the first time.

Netanyahu’s planned trip to Turkey falls out in the same week as his diplomatic visit to Cyprus. The prime minister is scheduled to fly to the Mediterranean island on July 25 and return the next day.

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.”

Six 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 Turkish soil in recent months, its foreign minister late last year reaffirmed that Turkey does “not see Hamas as a terrorist organization.”

Earlier this month, 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.

Turkey is also expected to host Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, who is slated to fly to Ankara on July 25. With Abbas, Erdoğan will discuss the “Turkey-Palestine relations, the latest developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as other current regional and international issues,” according to Erdoğan’s statement.

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