Herzog will meet Turkey’s Erdogan on Wednesday in Ankara

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President Issac Herzog will travel to Turkey on Wednesday, where he will meet his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his office confirmed on Saturday.

It will be the first visit to Turkey by an Israeli leader since 2008.

According to the statement, Herzog is expected to travel to the capital Ankara, where he will be received by Erdogan in an official welcoming ceremony at the presidential compound.

The two leaders are expected to discuss various bilateral issues, including Israeli-Turkish relations and the potential for expanding collaboration between their respective states and peoples in various fields, according to the statement.

He will also travel to Istanbul, where he is to meet members of the local Jewish community.

The President will be accompanied on the trip by his wife Michal.

Ties between the two former allies have appeared to thaw in recent months, as Erdogan has made a number of statements about possible cooperation with Israel.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, shakes hands with Hamas terror movement leader Ismail Haniyeh, before their meeting in Istanbul, Feb. 1, 2020. (Presidential News Service via AP, Pool)

Israeli officials are expected to closely monitor events during the visit to ensure that Turkey, which staunchly supports the Palestinians, does not catch Herzog off guard and embarrass him in any way.

Last month, Erdogan said Herzog’s upcoming visit to Ankara would be beneficial for both nations.

Turkey is currently being hit by an economic crisis, while Israel and a group of countries in the region, including Turkey’s rival Greece, are working on a joint pipeline to bring gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe. , under an agreement signed in January 2020.

Turkey has strongly opposed the project and asserted its own territorial claims to the region’s energy wealth.

After the Biden administration dropped support for the controversial pipeline last month, Erdogan signaled he wanted Turkey involved in importing Israeli gas to Europe, saying there had been ‘some progress’ on the issue in the past, and suggesting a new project that would involve Ankara.

Once strong regional allies, Israel and Turkey saw their ties crumble during Erdogan’s tenure, during which the Turkish leader was a vocal critic of Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians.

Israel has been upset by Erdogan’s warm relationship with Hamas, the terror group that controls the Gaza Strip.

The countries reciprocally withdrew their ambassadors in 2010 after Israeli forces boarded a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying humanitarian aid for Palestinians trying to break an Israeli blockade. Although most of the participating ships were boarded without incident, those aboard a Turkish ferry fiercely resisted the Israeli action, resulting in the deaths of nine Turkish militants.

Relations slowly improved but broke down again in 2018, after Turkey, angered by the US moving its embassy to Jerusalem, once again recalled its envoy from Israel, prompting Israel to return the favour.

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