Turkey and Israel aim to move on from years of tension

Turkey and Israel aim to move on from years of tension

Israeli President Isaac Herzog visits Turkey on Wednesday at the invitation of President Tayyip Erdogan, the most senior Israeli visit since 2008 as the regional rivals work to mend years of strained ties.

Here is a timeline of key events before the talks:

May 2010 – Israeli commandos kill nine Turkish activists in a raid of the Mavi Marmara ship, which was leading a flotilla carrying aid toward Gaza. They were enforcing a naval blockade of the Hamas-run Palestinian territory. A tenth activist wounded in the incident died in 2014 after years in a coma.

September 2011 – Ankara downgrades Israel’s diplomatic presence in Turkey to second secretary level, effectively expelling Israeli diplomats after the release of a UN report on the raid.

March 2013 – In a phone call to Erdogan engineered by U.S. President Barack Obama, Israel’s then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologises to Turkey for errors that might have led to the deaths of the activists on the Mavi Marmara.

December 2015 – Israel and Turkey reach a preliminary deal to normalise relations including the return of ambassadors.

June 2016 – The two countries sign a deal to restore ties after the six-year rift, formalising an agreement which then-U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said sent a “hopeful signal” for regional stability.

November 2016 – Erdogan names a new ambassador to Israel, reciprocating a move by the Israelis, in a further step towards restoring diplomatic ties.

June 2017 – Turkey’s finance minister is quoted as saying Israel had paid total compensation of $20 million to the families of victims of the Israeli raid on the aid flotilla.

May 2018 – Turkey and Israel expel each other’s senior diplomats in a dispute over the killing by Israeli forces of 60 Palestinians during protests on the Gaza border against the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Erdogan described the bloodshed as genocide and called Israel a terrorist state.

December 2019 – Israel opposes an accord signed the previous month between Libya and Turkey mapping out maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean. Israel, Greece and Cyprus sign a deal the following month to build a pipeline to carry natural gas to Europe, a project opposed by Turkey that later stalled.

November 2021 – Turkey frees an Israeli couple that had been arrested for photographing Erdogan’s residence in Istanbul and accused of spying, an allegation denied by Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett later spoke with Erdogan – the first conversation between Turkish and Israeli leaders since 2013, according to Bennett’s office.

February 2022 – Erdogan says Turkey and Israel can work together to carry Israeli natural gas to Europe and the two countries will discuss energy cooperation during talks in March.

February 2022 – Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says ahead of Herzog’s visit that Turkey will not turn its back on its commitment to a Palestinian state in order to broker closer ties with Israel.

March 2022 – Turkey and Israel say their presidents will discuss steps to improve cooperation and review bilateral ties during Herzog’s visit. [Reuters]

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.