Turkey invites Israeli minister to diplomatic conference after 3-year hiatus


Ankara – April 22 (Online): After a three-year hiatus, an Israeli minister has been invited to Turkey to attend an official conference sponsored by the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan – Israel based newspaper ‘The Times of Israel’ reported on Thursday.
According to the newspaper, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu extended an invitation to Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, in an apparent attempt to warm Israel’s relations with Turkey as the Middle East battles over natural gas, the Kan public broadcaster reported Wednesday.
The newspaper commented “Israel has been using energy diplomacy to help create a bloc to counter Turkish policies in the region. But Steinitz made news in March when he mentioned during a press conference in Cyprus that Israel would be open to cooperating with Turkey on natural gas.”
“Additionally, in the face of increasing isolation and economic challenges, in recent months Turkey has signaled a desire to turn a new page in its relations with Israel, the EU, Greece and Egypt.” The times of Israel further reported.
The news story further reveals “Israel considered a gas deal with Turkey in 2016 as a rapprochement after the countries fell out over a deadly storming by Israeli commandos in 2010 of a Turkish flotilla to Gaza”
Israel later paid Turkey $20 million in compensation, a key pillar of a deal signed in June 2016 to restore ties after a six-year rift.
Turkey, once a strong Muslim ally of Israel, has become a geopolitical foe under Erdogan.
The country recalled its ambassador from Israel in May 2018, after violent protests on the Gaza border in which over 60 Palestinians, most of them thought to be members of Hamas and other terror groups, were killed. After the riots, Erdogan called Israel a “terrorist state.”
Çavusoglu’s invitation is the first extended to an Israeli minister since
The Turkish Foreign Minister according to the newspaper, speaking to Turkish media this week, said, according to Kan: “If there is a change in policy on the part of Israel, we will be willing to consider a change in policy on our part as well. We currently have economic relations, but the rest of our relations will require steps to correct.”