Treatment of Palestinians could affect Turkey's warming ties with Israel, FM says
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told Israeli reporters on Wednesday that "sustainable relations" between Israel and Turkey will require Israel to "respect the international law on the Palestinian issue."
Why it matters: Israeli-Turkish relations were frozen for most of the past 13 years, but are now beginning to improve. Past crises in the relationship were almost all linked to the Israel-Palestinian conflict — particularly flare-ups in Gaza — and Çavuşoğlu warned that such events could also undermine the current normalization process.
The backstory: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's government initiated talks aimed at mending relations after Israel's new government took office last year.
- Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Ankara last month, becoming the first Israeli president to do so in 15 years. At a summit with Erdoğan, both leaders pledged to open a new chapter in the relationship.
- They also agreed to form a "conflict resolution" mechanism to discuss differences on the Palestinian issue in private and avoid further public disputes.
In this morning's briefing with five Israeli reporters, Çavuşoğlu said the current Israel-Turkey dialogue has been constructive and momentum is growing.
- After many ups and downs, Çavuşoğlu said, Turkey now wants to build a more sustainable relationship with Israel.
- Nevertheless, he said the problems that still exist between the countries are connected to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and what he called "violations of international law" by Israel.
- He added that Turkey wants a dialogue with Israel on regional issues like Iran and Syria and a positive agenda in areas like trade, investment, energy and tourism.
What to watch: Çavuşoğlu stressed that Turkey calls for restraint by Israel and the Palestinians during Ramadan and said he hopes recent terror attacks by Palestinians against Israelis and incidents in which the Israeli military has killed Palestinian civilians won't lead to further escalation.
What's next: Çavuşoğlu is likely to visit Israel in late May, according to a senior Israeli official. That would be the first visit by a Turkish foreign minister in more than a decade.