JERUSALEM: Turkey’s diplomatic thaw with Israel will help the Palestinians, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday during the first trip to Israel by Ankara’s top diplomat in 15 years.
Cavusoglu, who met Palestinian officials in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, was in Jerusalem as Turkey and Israel seek to mend ties which began to fray following an Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip in 2008.
Ties fully collapsed in 2010 when Israeli forces stormed a Turkish aid ship bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip, in a botched operation that claimed the lives of 10 Turks.
Cavusoglu and his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid stressed economic ties had continued to grow, despite years of acrimony between the two countries.
“We won’t pretend that our relationship has not seen its ups and downs,” Lapid said. “Even in times of political tension, economic cooperation between our countries has been constantly on the rise.”
Addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Cavusoglu voiced hope Turkey and Israel could “address our disagreements in a more constructive manner.”
“Turkey is ready to take responsibility to continue the efforts toward (Israeli-Palestinian) dialogue,” he said.
After meeting Lapid, Cavusoglu visited the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, Islam’s third holiest site and the scene of repeated clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police during Ramadan.
Cavusoglu’s visit, which passed without incident, saw him pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
At his meeting with Lapid, Cavusoglu said; “We believe that normalization of our ties will have a positive impact on peaceful resolution of the conflict,” he said.