Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed today, Wednesday, in Ankara, with Israeli President Isaac Herzog - who is on a first-of-its-kind visit to Turkey in 14 years - bilateral relations and cooperation in the fields of energy and defense.

Talks at the Presidential Complex in the Turkish capital also dealt with the developments of the Ukrainian-Russian file, the eastern Mediterranean file, and the project to extend a gas pipeline from Israel to Europe through Turkish territory.

Erdogan said - after the talks - that the improvement of Turkish-Israeli relations is very important for spreading stability and peace in the region, adding that he believes that the Israeli president's visit will be a turning point in relations between the two sides.

He added that he told Herzog that the two sides have the ability and knowledge to cooperate in the fields of energy, economy and defense, referring to a "very important" visit to Israel by the Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources.

The Turkish President also informed his Israeli counterpart that Turkey is sensitive to the Israeli policy towards Palestine and the historical and religious status of Jerusalem.

Earlier, Erdogan said that the Israeli president's visit would usher in a "new era" and that the two countries could work together to transport Israeli natural gas to Europe.

In turn, Herzog said that he believes that relations with Turkey will be based on "mutual respect" from now on, noting that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will visit Israel next month.

In statements he made at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv before traveling to Ankara, the Israeli president described relations with Turkey as important to enhance stability in the region.

At the beginning of his two-day visit, Herzog visited the tomb of former Turkish President Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and he is scheduled to meet on Thursday with representatives of the Jewish community in Turkey.

turning point

The Turkish president’s initiative to contact the current Israeli president to congratulate him on his election as president of Israel last July marked a first turning point in Turkish-Israeli relations, and launched an initiative to restore relations between the two parties, which have deteriorated in the last decade even after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to the president In 2014, the Turkish government announced the killing of the Turkish volunteers on board the Mavi Marmara, an apology that Netanyahu had to offer under great pressure from former US President Barack Obama.

Over the course of the current decade, relations between the two countries have witnessed ups and downs, punctuated by repeated Israeli accusations against Turkey of embracing Hamas.

Despite the initiative to improve relations between the two parties, Israeli officials - including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett - declared that they do not necessarily rely on President Erdogan, accusing him of being in a volatile mood and will not hesitate to attack Israel and criticize its policies in the Palestinian territories, especially in Jerusalem.

And the media recently published reports about the deepening of intelligence cooperation between Turkey and Israel in the past months, especially after the detection of Iranian cells that sought to target a number of Israeli businessmen working in Turkey.

Demonstrators in Ankara condemn Herzog's visit to Turkey (Reuters)

Protests against the visit

Al-Jazeera Net correspondent Zaher al-Beik stated that Turkey witnessed demonstrations and protests rejecting the visit of the Israeli president. Turkish activists burned Israeli flags on the road to the airport where the Herzog plane landed in Ankara and instead raised Palestinian flags.

Islamic civil society organizations also organized demonstrations in Ankara, Istanbul and other Turkish provinces to protest against the Israeli president's visit.

In the stand that took place in front of the Israeli embassy in Ankara, the demonstrators chanted slogans against the United States and Israel, and carried pictures of the Turkish martyrs who lost their lives by the bullets of Israeli soldiers on board the Mavi Marmara ship, and then burned the Israeli flag.

"We will not forget the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian martyrs, and in the name of the sanctity of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque, this visit must be confronted, which is a step towards normalizing relations with Israel," said the press statement, which was read out by a representative of the Anatolian Youth Association.

On the sidelines of the stand, Zaki Qanat (one of those wounded by Israeli soldiers' bullets on board the Mavi Marmara ship) said in an interview with Al Jazeera Net that Herzog's arrival in Turkey is a "disgrace."

In this context, the Turkish Islamic Happiness Party issued a statement against the Israeli president's visit, saying, "The visit of the murderer Herzog to Turkey seriously harmed our nation. This visit means betrayal of the Palestinian cause."

The statement called on the Turkish president to sever relations with Israel, and said, "Israel wants to sell the gas it stole from our Palestinian brothers to Europe through Turkey. The Turkish government should not mediate to steal Israel, as our nation does not accept such an agreement that legitimizes Israeli terrorism."

He stressed that Turkey's normalization with Israel will only bring occupation and massacres to Palestine, and will only bring evil to Turkey.

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