Netanyahu says Turkey’s Erdogan agrees to reset ties


TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel and Turkey agreed to a fresh start in ties Thursday, according to former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office. Relations between the former allies became icy under Netanyahu’s term in office. He is now expected to return to power soon as head of Israel’s most right-wing government ever.

Relations were already on the mend under outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid who met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in New York in September, the first meeting between the countries’ leaders in 14 years.

But Erdogan’s relations with Israel under Netanyahu were particularly frosty, especially over recurring wars against Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers and the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid by the Israeli military, also during Netanyahu’s rule.

Erdogan had shown a willingness for warmer ties since Netanyahu was ousted after 12 consecutive years in power last year. Thursday’s statement signaled that the ties could continue to improve under Netanyahu.

Netanyahu’s office said they vowed to cooperate and start afresh in a phone call between the two leaders Thursday. Netanyahu is in the process of trying to form a government following national elections earlier this month.

“The two leaders agreed to work together to launch a new era in ties between Turkey and Israel,” according to a statement from Netanyahu’s office.

There was no immediate comment from Erdogan’s office.

Over years of strained relations, Erdogan has been an outspoken critic of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. Israel, in turn, has objected to Turkey’s embrace of Hamas.

The once-close regional allies 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.

But following Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s state visit to Turkey in March and other signs of a thaw, the two countries agreed to exchange ambassadors. They still share various strategic interests, including containing Iran.

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