Turkey’s foreign minister said Wednesday that normalizing ties with Israel will help efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke in Jerusalem as part of the first visit by a senior Turkish official to Israel in 15 years. The trip comes as Israel and Turkey have worked to reset their relations after years of strained ties.
Speaking at a joint press conference with his Israeli counterpart, Cavusoglu said that "working on a positive agenda can also help us to address our disagreements in a more constructive manner." Communications between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Israeli counterpart helped calm tensions between Israel and the Palestinians in Jerusalem during Ramadan, he added.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that the two countries "have always known how to return to dialogue and cooperation."
"Nations with long histories always know how to close one chapter and open a new one. That is what we are doing here today," he said.
Cavusoglu’s visit to Jerusalem followed a series of high level meetings with Palestinian officials in Ramallah, where he stated Turkey’s commitment to the Palestinians and their independence. The Turkish foreign minister said that he discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with both parties, and "we believe that the two-state solution with UN parameters is only the solution for a durable peace."
"We believe that normalization of our ties will also have a positive impact on peaceful resolution of the conflict," he said.
Earlier on Wednesday Cavusoglu visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, and was to pay a private visit to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Turkey and Israel were close allies, but relations grew tense under Erdogan, who is a vocal critic of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. The countries withdrew their ambassadors in 2010 after Israeli forces stormed a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying humanitarian aid for Palestinians that broke an Israeli-Egyptian blockade. The incident resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists.
Turkey recalled its ambassador in 2018 after the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem, prompting Israel to respond in kind. The two countries have not reappointed their ambassadors.