Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog will visit Ankara in mid-March as the two countries seek to restore bilateral ties.
“With this visit, we will endeavour to put our bilateral relations on a very different ground for the future, in a positive direction,” Erdogan told reporters.
On the fact that Israel had sent its special representatives to Turkey, Erdogan said Turkish special envoys would also travel to Israel before Herzog’s visit.
Turkey’s relations with Israel have deteriorated since 2010, when a Turkish-led flotilla trying to break Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip clashed with Israeli forces, killing 10 Turks onboard.
Before 2010, Turkey and Israel had long been in close relations, including military and intelligence cooperation.
Reconciliation attempts did not yield full recovery of ties between the two countries because Erdogan is a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause.
In a more recent spat in 2018 when the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem, Turkey expelled the Israeli Ambassador from Ankara.
The two countries have been working on a rapprochement in recent months, with Erdogan holding phone talks with Herzog.
On January 16, the Turkish President said Ankara was interested in resuming talks with Israel over transporting Israeli natural gas to Europe through Turkey.
His remarks came after the US dropped support for the EastMed pipeline, a rival project involving Israel, Cyprus and Turkey’s neighbour and rival Greece.
In 2016, Turkey and Israel held a series of talks for the transport of Israeli gas through Turkey as part of reconciliation efforts, but the discussions were fruitless.