December 5, 2022

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Gantz Visits Turkey in First Official Visit in a Decade

2 min read

On Wednesday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz went on his first official visit to Turkey, which is the first one by a defense chief from Israel in about a decade.

His office published a schedule of the official visit, which shows that the defense minister is scheduled for a meeting on Thursday morning with Hulusi Akar, his Turkish counterpart.

The trip

This meeting will be yet another step in the process that has been going on about a year, with the countries slowly inching towards restoring full diplomatic relations after ties had been frayed for about a decade.

Two months earlier, the head of the Political-Military Bureau of the ministry, Dror Shalom, had had a meeting with Turkish defense officials.

The ministry said that the purpose of the meeting was to renew security relations between the two nations after a decade.

It also said that this meeting in Turkey had also involved a discussion about the issues that would be discussed between Akar and Gantz.

Before Gantz’s flight on Wednesday, a defense official said that it was unlikely that there would be a weapons deal made between the two countries during the trip.

The ties

The official said that there was no procurement race here and they would take the process forward with very careful steps.

According to the official, they had made this quite clear and would continue to do so because of the sensitive ties of Israel with Greece and Cyprus, which are Turkish rivals.

One of the mainstays of relations between Israel and Turkey had been defense ties, but this was before their diplomatic relations suffered.

It was said that defense ties had been renewed between Ankara and Jerusalem after a series of attacks planned by Iranian cells on Israeli tourists in Istanbul had been foiled by Turkish authorities.

The previous month had seen a Turkish warship anchor at a port in Israel for the first time in about a decade.

The progress

Last month had also seen Yair Lapid, the Prime Minister of Israel, meet Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey, on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting.

It was the first meeting to take place between the Turkish leader and an Israeli premier since 2008. This discussion had happened only a month after there had been a phone call between the two leaders.

The call had seen the two agree on restoring their ties fully and returning ambassadors to their respective capitals, which would see the antagonism of years end.

This had primarily been due to the relationship that Israel has had with the Palestinians. Jerusalem has also been pressing on Ankara for a long time to crack down on the activity of Hamas in Turkey.

It has argued that the terror group, which is based in Gaza, targets Israelis in terror attacks that are orchestrated through the foreign office.

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