Turkish, Israeli FMs talk over phone amid rapprochement steps

Turkish, Israeli FMs talk over phone amid rapprochement steps

Turkish, Israeli FMs talk over phone amid rapprochement steps

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Jan. 20 spoke with his Israeli counterpart, Yair Lapid, over the phone, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has said.

The conversation comes amid recent rapprochement attempts between the two countries after years of strain mainly due to the Palestinian issue.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Jan. 18 that he is open to mending Turkey’s frayed ties with Israel following a reported drop in U.S. support for a controversial Mediterranean gas pipeline.

Erdoğan also said he was engaging in talks with his Israeli counterpart from that country, adding that President Isaac Herzog could visit Turkey.

Erdoğan’s comments follow a year in which Turkey has taken steps to improve relations with a host of regional rivals.

Turkey’s relations with Israel entered a deep freeze after the death of 10 civilians in an Israeli raid on a Turkish flotilla destined for the Gaza Strip in 2010.

Israel and a group of countries, including Turkey’s historic rival Greece, then began work on a joint pipeline to bring eastern Mediterranean Sea gas to Europe.

Turkey strongly opposed the project and staked its own territorial claims on the region’s energy wealth.

The pipeline was also supported by the former administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

But Israeli and other media have reported that Washington privately informed Greece last week that current U.S. President Joe Biden’s team no longer backed the pipeline project because it created regional tensions with Turkey.

“I think the U.S. decided to pull back after looking at the [project’s] finances,” Erdoğan said during a joint media appearance with visiting Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.