Israeli President Isaac Herzog will be the first Israeli leader to visit Turkey in 14 years.

Turkey and Israel move to heal rift

Herzog is scheduled to hold talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara before travelling to Istanbul for meetings with members of Turkey’s Jewish community.

Turkey and Israel once were close allies, but the relationship frayed under Erdogan, who is an outspoken critic of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians.

Israel also has been angered by Erdogan’s embrace of Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip. Israel considers Hamas a terrorist group.

The countries withdrew their respective ambassadors in 2010 after Israeli forces stormed a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying humanitarian aid for Palestinians that broke an Israeli blockade. The incident resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists.

Relations broke down again in 2018 when Turkey, angered by the US moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, once more recalled its ambassador, prompting Israel to respond in kind. The two countries have not reappointed their ambassadors.

The steps toward a rapprochement with Israel comes as Turkey, beset by economic troubles, has been trying to end its international isolation by normalising its ties with several countries in the Mideast region, including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Read the article in The Canberra Times (AAP).