Turkey and Israel are set to embark on a collaborative venture in energy drilling, as revealed by President Tayyip Erdogan's statements reported by Turkish media. This announcement comes following a significant meeting between Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations, marking their first in-person encounter since diplomatic relations between the two nations became strained due to disagreements over policies regarding Palestinians.
After their meeting at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Erdogan disclosed that mutual visits are on the horizon, with a particular focus on boosting energy cooperation. He expressed eagerness to expedite energy drilling operations with Israel and highlighted their intention to establish energy transfer networks to Europe via Turkey, extending beyond Turkey itself.
Erdogan emphasized the objective of raising the current trade volume, which stands at $9.5 billion, to a minimum of $15 billion in the initial phase of their collaboration. Additionally, he shared that discussions between the leaders encompassed the creation of a mechanism involving various ministries to enhance cooperation in sectors such as energy, tourism, and technology.
The rift in the relationship between Turkey and Israel originated from a 2010 incident when Israeli forces killed ten Turkish citizens during an operation on a pro-Palestinian activist ship attempting to breach the Gaza Strip blockade, governed by Hamas, an organization considered a proscribed Islamist group in the Western world. Subsequently, Ankara expelled Israel's ambassador, a move that was partially reversed in 2016 but later reinstated in 2018 following the killing of numerous Palestinians involved in violent protests at the Gaza border. Israel, in response, expelled Turkey's envoy.
Efforts to mend these strained ties began with Israeli President Isaac Herzog's visit to Turkey in March 2022, followed by reciprocal visits by both foreign ministers. However, a planned visit by Netanyahu in July faced delays due to his health issues.
Notably, Turkey initiated a diplomatic charm offensive in 2020, reaching out not only to Israel but also to other estranged regional rivals, including Egypt, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, in a bid to repair relations.
[Information sourced from Reuters]