Israel, Turkey defence ministers agree to thaw in chilly ties

Israel, Turkey defence ministers agree to thaw in chilly ties
Israel's defence minister visited Turkey on Thursday as the two countries move forward in mending ties
2 min read
Gantz (L) met with his Turkish counterpart (R) as well as Turkish President Erdogan [Getty]

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said on Thursday he had asked his staff to start the process of resuming working relations with Turkey after meeting his Turkish counterpart in Ankara on the first such visit in over a decade.

"As agreed in our meetings, I have instructed my staff to begin the procedures required in order to resume working relations," Gantz told a joint news conference with Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar.

Gantz, who is running for prime minister in next week's Israeli election, also met with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

Relations between Israel and Turkey have been rocky since 2011, when Ankara expelled Israel's ambassador following a 2010 Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara aid ship to Gaza, which killed ten Turkish citizens.

Diplomatic relations were restored in 2016 and the two countries exchanged ambassadors. But two years later Turkey recalled its diplomats from Israel and expelled Israeli envoys when Israeli forces killed a number of Palestinians who had taken part in the "March of Return" protests in the Gaza Strip.

Earlier this year, Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Ankara as part of his first visit to Turkey by an Israeli leader since 2008.

"Moving forward, we must adopt a steady, positive approach in our relations – maintaining open dialogue," Gantz said.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said: "The improvement of our relations and cooperation with Israel, especially in areas such as defence, security and energy, will lead to important developments regarding regional peace and stability."

Better relations with Israel would "facilitate the resolution of some issues on which we have disagreements, especially on Palestine", Akar said.