Foreign Minister Yair Lapid took off this morning (Thursday) for Ankara, for a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Bolut Cebuszlo. The meeting is taking place against the background of the still existing fear of Iranian squads harming Israeli tourists in Turkey, and especially in Istanbul, along with the Israeli-Turkish security cooperation on the issue.
On Monday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett revealed that a “significant number” of terrorists who planned to hit tourists have already been caught in a joint effort by Israel and Turkey, but there are still other squads trying to hit. Bennett did not answer the question of whether the terrorists captured were of Iranian or Turkish descent. According to him, he hopes that tourism will return to normal, but this will only happen after the counterterrorism efforts have ended.
Last month, Chebushalou came to a meeting in Jerusalem with Lapid and also met with Tourism Minister Yoel Rezbozov. The Turkish minister also holds meetings in Ramallah, and in addition ascended the Temple Mount for a “private visit”, unaccompanied by Israeli officials. The issue of the Turkish attempts to take over complexes in the Old City of Jerusalem and its impact on the Temple Mount did not come up in talks between him and the Israeli ministers.
A senior political figure reiterated this week the approach that warming relations between Israel and Turkey in recent months should be taken with a very cautious approach, given Erdogan’s most aggressive stance against Israel in recent years, and his antisemitic remarks.
Eitan Na’a, who served as the last Israeli ambassador to Turkey so far, was deported by Erdogan in 2018, when the Turks even took the trouble to conduct a humiliating inspection of his belongings at the airport in front of the cameras. Despite the warming of relations, the two countries are in no hurry – at least at this stage – to announce the reappointment of ambassadors, and are waiting to see that relations between the two countries are indeed moving in a positive direction. Lapid and Chebushalu are expected to make official statements this afternoon, and it is currently expected that there will be no re-announcement of the appointment of ambassadors.