Turkey FM Mevlut Cavusoglu claims improved Israel ties will 'help Palestinians' in Jerusalem visit

Turkey FM Mevlut Cavusoglu claims improved Israel ties will 'help Palestinians' in Jerusalem visit
3 min read
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara believes that normalising ties with Israel will have a 'positive impact on peaceful resolution of the conflict'.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was in Jerusalem as Turkey and Israel seek to mend ties [JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty]

Turkey's diplomatic thaw with Israel will help Palestinians, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu claimed on Wednesday, in the first trip to Israel by Ankara's top diplomat in 15 years.

Cavusoglu was in Jerusalem as Turkey and Israel seek to mend ties following a breakdown that began during Israel's brutal military assault on the besieged Gaza Strip in 2008.

Cavusoglu and his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid stressed that economic ties had continued to grow despite years of acrimony between the two countries.

"We won't pretend that our relationship has not seen its ups and downs," Lapid said.

"Even in times of political tension, economic cooperation between our countries has been constantly on the rise."

The foreign ministers said they had agreed to re-launch their Joint Economic Commission and to begin working on a new civil aviation agreement that would allow Israeli carriers to fly to Turkey.

“There are many opportunities in areas such as clean energy, high-tech, agri-tech, tourism and agriculture,” Cavusoglu said.

Cavusoglu noted that Turkey was a top 10 trading partner for Israel and a major destination for Israeli tourists, voicing hope that deepening ties could yield benefits for Palestinians.

"We believe that normalisation of our ties will have a positive impact on peaceful resolution of the conflict," he said.

Cavusoglu claimed that dialogue between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog helped "maintain calm" during recent tensions in occupied East Jerusalem.

Israeli security forces and settlers repeatedly and violently attacked Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"Turkey is ready to take responsibility to continue the efforts towards [Palestinian-Israeli] dialogue," Cavusoglu said.

Lapid said Israel expects to see progress with Turkey in their "diplomatic and security relations", but neither foreign minister addressed a potential envoy swap.

The two countries expelled ambassadors in 2018 and have often traded barbs over Israel's actions in occupied Palestinian territory.

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Erdogan continues to position himself as a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause but analysts say he wants improved relations with Israel to bolster Turkey's struggling economy, including through joint gas initiatives.

Earlier in his visit, Cavusoglu visited Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem and also headed to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, both in Jerusalem.

Al-Aqsa is located in occupied East Jerusalem, which Israel illegally annexed in 1980 in a move rejected by the UN Security Council and almost the entire international community.

Cavusoglu met with Palestinian officials in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, and vowed to continue gunning for an independent and sovereign Palestinian state.