American Jewish body visits Istanbul

American Jewish body visits Istanbul

Amid the recent efforts to restore the strained ties between Turkey and Israel, the board members of a U.S.-based international NGO started a visit to Turkey aimed at fostering the Turkish-U.S. relations as well as contributing to the normalization of the Turkish-Israeli relationship.

Meeting with senior policy analysts, civil society leaders, members of Parliament and Jewish community leaders in Turkey this week, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) delegation has long been committed to durable, strong relations between Turkey and the United States, said Jason F. Isaacson, the NGO’s director of government and international affairs.

Strongly welcoming the recent normalization of relations between Turkey and Israel, the AJC wishes to see closer understanding and further cooperation on a range of mutual interests between the two nations, Isaacson told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.

The frozen relationship between Turkey and Israel, after the latter’s deadly 2010 attack that killed nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists on an aid ship bound for the Gaza Strip, has recently seen a thaw after the Israeli prime minister apologized for the raid. Compensation to the victims of the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara ship and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s apology to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were Turkey’s core conditions for normalizing ties between the once strong allies.

The normalization of ties was extremely positive, Isaacson said, adding: “Some political issues [between Turkey and Israel] would remain, that is expected. But the normalization is in the best interests of Turkey and Israel due to the economic cooperation and long-standing friendship in an unstable region.”

During their meetings in Istanbul, Isaacson said, the board members of the AJC, which has twenty-five offices in the United States and nine overseas, saw a strong desire for strong U.S.-Turkish relations. “People were very open to discussion,” he said.