Jerusalem will welcome an official delegation from Turkey this week to work on preparations for a high-level visit by the Israeli president to Turkey next month, according to a statement from the Office of the President of Israel and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
President Isaac Herzog’s visit will likely serve as an icebreaker for thawing relations between the two nations, which had deteriorated under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey has openly supported Hamas, the terror group which controls the Gaza Strip and has condemned Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians – even as recently as May 2021 during the Gaza-Israel war.
However, recent reconciliatory language from the Turkish president could be signaling the beginning of improved relations between Ankara and Jerusalem. In December 2020, he ended a two-year standoff with Israel by appointing a new ambassador to Israel and also saying directly that the two countries can improve ties.
Then, after Herzog took office in June, Erdogan placed a rare phone call to an Israeli official to congratulate the new president.
Herzog would be the first Israeli president to visit Ankara since the late Israeli President Shimon Peres in 2007.
The Turkish delegation includes the spokesperson and chief advisor to the Turkish president, Ibrahim Kalin, and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey Sedat Önal. They will meet with Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Alon Ushpiz, Director-General of the Office of the President of Israel Eyal Shviki and senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the President of Israel.
The visit is scheduled to take place on March 9, according to Turkish media reports.