Israeli president holds talks with Erdoğan in Turkey

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Israeli president holds talks with Erdoğan in Turkey

Herzog: 'We will not agree on everything, and the relationship between Israel and Turkey has certainly known ups and downs … but we shall try to restart our relations.'

Israeli President Isaac Herzog meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, 9 March, 2022. (GPO/Haim Zach
Israeli President Isaac Herzog meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, 9 March, 2022. (GPO/Haim Zach

Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Ankara on Wednesday to speak with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a meeting that represents a significant thawing of relations between Israel and Turkey.

Diplomacy between the two countries had been practically frozen since Israeli military forces killed eight Turkish citizens and one Turkish American aboard a ship attempting to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2010.

“I believe that this historic visit will be a turning point in relations between Turkey and Israel. Strengthening relations with the State of Israel has great value for our country,” Erdoğan said in his opening remarks to Turkish and Israeli press.

“We will not agree on everything, and the relationship between Israel and Turkey has certainly known ups and downs … but we shall try to restart our relations,” Herzog said, speaking after Erdoğan.

“I hope that in the wake of my visit, a serious process will begin with Turkey … and that ultimately we will see, so I hope, progress in our relations and positive results.”

The meeting comes as Turkey is experiencing a major economic crisis, while at the same time, many of Turkey’s rivals across the Middle East, such as the United Arab Emirates, are experiencing the benefits of newly opened trade with Israel in the wake of the Abraham Accords.

In recent years, Erdoğan’s administration has also led the renovation of Jewish heritage in sites in Turkey, which some critics had written off as a PR move.

Despite their recently frosty relations, the two countries had a long history of friendship during the 20th century, and Turkey even allowed the Israeli air force to use its airspace for training in the 1990s and early 2000s.

The two countries exchanged ambassadors during a brief thaw in 2016, but Turkey withdrew its ambassador and expelled Israel’s again in 2018, after the Trump administration moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. In response, Israel expelled Turkey’s consul in Jerusalem.

Turkey has also long hosted the leadership of Hamas, the militant group that rules the Gaza Strip considered a terrorist organization by the United States. During last year’s conflict between Israel and Hamas, Turkey condemned Israel as a “terrorist state.”

Nonetheless, Herzog and Erdoğan spoke on a rare phone call in July 2021 after Herzog became president, and again in November to discuss the fate of two Israeli tourists who had been jailed on espionage charges in Turkey. The tourists were released.

Erdogan boasted about the latter call in December in Istanbul at a meeting of the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States, and publicly declared his hopes for a meeting with Herzog ever since.

During the first day of his visit to Turkey, Herzog and his wife Michal also laid a wreath at Anitkabir, the mausoleum in Ankara of Kemal Atatürk, the founding father of modern-day Turkey.

On Thursday he travelled to Istanbul to meet with members of the Turkish Jewish community at the Turkish rabbinate’s flagship synagogue, Neve Shalom.

“At a sensitive time for our world and region, meetings between Jewish and Muslim leaders help pave a path towards peace and mutual respect,” commented Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, Turkey’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi. As chairman of the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States, he met with Erdogan himself in December.

“President Herzog, together with Turkish President Erdoğan, helped raise the baton of Muslim-Jewish relations — as a means of safeguarding regional peace, generating tolerance and understanding of the multicultural nature of society, and the importance of celebrating the common values we often share between people of different faiths,” ARIS said in a statement.

The last time an Israeli president visited Turkey was in 2008.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.