Israeli and Turkish think tanks to hold joint session in Tel Aviv ahead of Herzog’s trip
As President Isaac Herzog prepares for his trip to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, experts from two think tanks – one Israeli and one Turkish – will meet for a day-long seminar in Tel Aviv on Thursday to discuss the links between the two nations.
Turkey’s Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), known for being Erdogan-aligned and funded by the Turkish government, will be hosted by the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies.
The event will be closed to the press and public. It is also not listed on any institute websites.
Planned discussion topics include the schism between the two countries, the energy market and other relevant issues.
The Times of Israel has learned that diplomats and government officials will participate in the session, which aims to restore ties and relations between mid-level officials from the two countries.
The Israeli participants will be led by Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak and Nir Boms, both researchers at the Moshe Dayan Center, while the Turkish part will be led by SETA director Burhanettin Duran.
At the end of January, Duran published an article on the SETA website, also published by the Daily Sabah newspaper, which supports the Turkish regime, titled “Further normalization of Turkey-Israel relations.”
In it, he details how Turkey plans to open a new chapter in its relations with the United States, the European Union, Greece, Armenia, the United Arab Emirates and Israel.
Duran wrote about US interest in helping Israel and Turkey sever their ties. He also noted that with world powers expected to sign a new nuclear deal with Iran, Israel must strengthen its ties with Turkey.
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.
Herzog is expected to travel to Ankara later this month. Turkish media reported that the visit will take place on March 9-10.
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.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.