Erdogan, Netanyahu may meet to progress Turkey-Israel thaw

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and  Benjamin Netanyahu
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L). (Photo: Twitter)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are expected to hold a meeting in the coming month to work towards improving the historically strained relations between their countries. اضافة اعلان

Recent developments in tourism, business collaboration, and the potential for gas shipments have paved the way for a thaw in the long-standing frosty relationship, Bloomberg reported.

The disruption caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and Iran's activities in the region are additional factors incentivizing the leaders to seek reconciliation.

Turkey's growing concerns over Iran's increasing influence in Syria, particularly its support for groups hostile to Israel such as Hezbollah, have prompted a reevaluation of its relationship with Israel.

Similarly, Azerbaijan's successful reclaiming of occupied territories with the help of Israeli and Turkish drones has underscored the importance of strengthening regional ties.

Both Israel and Turkey are actively seeking improved relations with other Middle Eastern nations, with Israel having established diplomatic ties with the UAE and Morocco in 2020 and Turkey having restored its relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Domestic pressures, economic revamp create urgency for meeting
Both Erdogan and Netanyahu face significant domestic pressures that add urgency to the potential meeting.

Netanyahu has encountered mass protests in response to his attempts to weaken the judiciary's power, while Erdogan has undertaken economic reforms following his recent re-election to address the cost-of-living crisis.

Schedules permitting, the leaders are expected to convene in Ankara in July.

Gas export agreement and trade growth
Discussions between Erdogan and Netanyahu may revolve around the possibility of exporting liquefied natural gas from a field off the Gaza Strip to Europe via Turkey.

However, the feasibility of this endeavor remains uncertain due to the absence of substantial gas reserves and the lack of necessary infrastructure such as LNG export terminals and gas pipelines. Nevertheless, a potential gas agreement could contribute to bridging the divide between the two nations.

Bilateral trade between Turkey and Israel has already seen an 11 percent increase, with Turkish exports to Israel reaching $7 billion last year, while imports stood at approximately $2.5 billion.

Ongoing divisions
Despite the efforts to improve relations, fundamental disagreements persist between Turkey and Israel. Disputes over the status of Palestinian territories continue to divide the two nations. Israel also accuses Turkey of supporting Hamas.

Despite lingering divisions, Turkey and Israel are experiencing a notable increase in bilateral trade and tourism.

The resumption of cruise lines and the introduction of direct flights from Israeli companies to Turkish resorts like Antalya and Bodrum have contributed to a booming tourism industry. It is projected that over 1 million Israeli tourists will visit Turkey this year, compared to 843,000 in 2022.

Both the Turkish government and Israel's embassy in Ankara have refrained from commenting on the potential meeting and its objectives.

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