Israel, Turkey hail new era in relations

Israel and Turkey have announced a new era in relations following more than a decade of diplomatic rupture, as Israeli President, Isaac Herzog, made a landmark visit to the Turkish capital, Ankara.

Herzog’s Turkey trip, which included talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, was the first by an Israeli president since 2007, when the late Shimon Peres addressed the Turkish parliament.

Appearing before cameras following the talks, Erdogan described Israeli president’s visit as “historic” and “a turning point” in Turkish-Israeli relations. He said Turkey was ready to cooperate with Israel in the energy sector, adding that the Turkish foreign and energy ministers would soon visit Israel for more talks on increased cooperation.

“Our common goal is to revitalise political dialogue between our countries based on common interests and respect for mutual sensitivities,” Erdogan said.

The visit was a “very important moment for the relations between our countries, and a great honour for the two of us to lay the foundations of developing friendly relations between our countries and nations, and to build bridges essential to us all”, Herzog said in a statement in Hebrew.

Both leaders conceded, however, that differences remain – not least on the issue of the Palestinians.

Israel captured East Jerusalem with its Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites -the emotional ground zero of the more than century-long conflict – in the 1967 war and annexed it in a move unrecognised by most of the international community.

The Palestinian leadership has often sought East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, including the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Ankara has closed ties with Hamas which governs the Gaza Strip. The United States and European Union have designated Hamas as a “terrorist” organisation.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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