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Netanyahu and Erdoğan meet for first time, discuss Saudi normalization and increased cooperation

The two leaders also discussed improving bilateral relations and trade

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Meets with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Sept. 19, 2023 (Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO)

In another sign of the diplomatic thaw between the two nations, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met for the first time ever on Tuesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York City.

The two leaders discussed regional and international issues, including the improving ties and efforts toward normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

They also agreed to visit each other soon, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Erdoğan plans to visit Israel as soon as possible to pray at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, according to Israeli Channel 12 news. The visit could mark the 100-year anniversary of the Turkish Republic, which was founded on Oct. 29, 1923.

Netanyahu and Erdoğan also discussed recent developments in Israeli-Palestinian relations, the Turkish Foreign Ministry reported.

Israel’s National Security Council Director Tzachi Hanegbi has been leading discussions with the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the framework of a normalization deal with Saudi Arabia for the last several months.

The Turkish president also addressed Israeli-Palestinian relations during his speech to the assembly before the meeting.

“In order for peace to ring in the Middle East, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict should be brought to an eventual solution. We will continue to support the Palestinian people and their struggle for legitimate rights under international law,” he affirmed.

Netanyahu thanked the Erdoğan for Turkey's security cooperation in June 2022, which thwarted plans made by terrorist cells to attack Israeli citizens in Istanbul.

The two leaders also discussed increasing bilateral cooperation in the fields of energy, technology, innovation, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.

The meeting marked yet another milestone in the improved diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey, which had been damaged following the 2010 Israeli raid of a pro-Palestinian activist ship which resulted in the deaths of 10 Turkish citizens.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Turkey in March 2022, followed by mutual visits from the national foreign ministers.

After more than a decade, Israel and Turkey announced the restoration of full diplomatic ties and the return of their ambassadors in August 2022.

In September 2022, then-Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid met with Erdoğan on the sidelines of that year's UN General Assembly in New York.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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