(Photo Credit: Israeli GPO)
Interim Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on 20 September, marking the first time Erdogan met with an Israeli premier since 2008.
During the closed-door meeting, Lapid raised the issue of Israeli prisoners to Erdogan, demanding the return of four of its citizens, including two soldiers missing in the Gaza Strip since a 2014 war, Lapid’s office said.
The two officials discussed resuming Israeli flights to Turkey, as Lapid stressed that this step would significantly contribute to boosting tourism between the two countries.
In his speech to the UN General Assembly, Erdogan reiterated the demand for establishing a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
However, the Turkish president also expressed his desire to continue to develop the country’s relations with Israel “for future, peace, and stability, not only for the region but also for Israel, the Palestinian people as well as us,” he said.
Turkey and Israel expelled each other’s ambassadors in 2018 and have often exchanged taunts over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Last month Turkey and Israel announced they would re-appoint their respective ambassadors.
Relations between the two countries soured in 2010 after a bloody landing by Israeli commandos on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, which was trying to deliver humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, breaching the siege imposed on the Palestinian enclave.
During his most recent trip to the US, Lapid also met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II to discuss escalating violence in the occupied West Bank.
Quoting people close to Lapid, Israel’s Arutz Sheva said, “this meeting is an additional expression of the closer relations between Israel and Jordan, as well as the strengthening of the personal relationship between them.”