Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that his country wants to establish better relations with Israel, adding that talks at the intelligence level are continuing between the two sides. 

But Erdogan criticized the Israeli policy towards the Palestinians as “unacceptable”.

The two countries ’relations have been severely strained in recent years, despite strong trade ties and exchanged expulsion of ambassadors in 2018.

Ankara has repeatedly condemned the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and its treatment of the Palestinians.

Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul after Friday prayers that Turkey had problems “with high-level personalities” in Israel and that these relations would have been “completely different” if those issues did not exist.

“Policy towards Palestine is a red line for us,” Erdogan said. 

It is impossible to accept the Israeli policy towards Palestine. 

Their ruthless behavior there is unacceptable”.

“If there were no issues at the highest levels, our relations would have been completely different… We want to take our relations to a better point,” he said.

Turkey and Israel expelled ambassadors in 2018 due to clashes that resulted in the killing of dozens of Palestinians on the border with the Gaza Strip. 

And trade between the two countries continued without interruption.

In August, Israel accused Turkey of granting passports to about a dozen Hamas members in Istanbul, describing it as a “very unfriendly step” that the government would raise with Turkish officials.

Hamas seized control of Gaza from forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007, and has since fought three wars with Israel. 

Turkey says Hamas is a legitimate democratically elected political movement.

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