Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met for the first time on Tuesday, amid a slow improvement in relations between the two countries that have been strained by differences over policies towards the Palestinians.
A statement issued by Netanyahu’s office said that the meeting between the Prime Minister and the Turkish president, and held talks on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, agreed to exchange visits soon.
Israeli Channel 12 TV said that Erdogan may seek to celebrate the centenary of the founding of the Turkish Republic next month by visiting a large mosque in Jerusalem, however no official statement were issued in this regard.
Relations between Israeli and Türkiye collapsed after Israeli forces killed ten Turks in a 2010 raid on a pro-Palestinian activist ship that attempted to break a blockade of the Gaza Strip ruled by the Hamas movement banned in the West.
Ankara expelled the Israeli ambassador, a move that was reversed in 2016 but repeated two years later due to the killing of dozens of Palestinians who participated in violent protests on the Gaza border.
Israel, which complained that Ankara was hosting Hamas leaders, expelled the Turkish ambassador in 2018.
The visit of Israeli President Isaac Herzog to Türkiye in March 2022, which was followed by two visits from the two foreign ministers, helped improve relations after more than a decade of tension.
The Turkish presidency said in a post on X platform about their meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly that the two leaders discussed political, economic and regional issues, in addition to the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
The Turkish presidency said that Erdogan told Netanyahu that the two countries can cooperate in the fields of energy, technology, innovation, artificial intelligence, as well as cybersecurity.
The energy sector was the main area of potential cooperation.
Turkish Energy Minister Alparslan Bayraktar, who participated in the meeting, said, that the meeting discussed opportunities for cooperation in the field of energy, mainly in areas such as natural gas exploration, production, and trade.
Türkiye also began a major effort in 2020 to reform relations with countries in the region, as it adopted initiatives towards Egypt, the Emirates, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.