Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spoken with his new Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog, in a sign of a possible thaw between the two former allies after years of frosty relations.
The rare telephone talks between the two countries on Monday came after Erdogan, a vocal champion of the Palestinian cause during his 18-year rule, held talks on Saturday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
During that meeting, Erdogan told Abbas that Turkey would “not remain silent to Israel’s oppression in Palestine,” according to the Turkish presidency.
Israel and Turkey were once close regional partners but relations between the two countries soured in the past 10 years. The Turkish government frequently criticises Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians.
However, during his call with Herzog, Erdogan emphasised the “great importance” of Turkey-Israel ties for security and stability in the Middle East, the Turkish presidency said.
Erdogan also underlined Turkey’s emphasis on continuing dialogue despite differences of opinion, it added in a statement. The Turkish presidency said there was strong potential for cooperation between the two countries in fields including energy, tourism and technology.
According to a statement by the Israeli president’s office, Herzog and Erdogan said that “ongoing dialogue despite all the differences of opinion” was important, particularly for advancing steps towards a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.
Herzog took office last week after he was elected by the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in a June vote. He spoke Saturday with neighbouring Jordan’s King Abdullah II after Israel and Jordan agreed to initiate negotiations for the sale of water to the Hashemite kingdom.