image Photo: Flash90, Reuters

Erdoğan congratulates Israel on Independence

The rare sentiments were expressed in a letter President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent to his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog.

By Erin Viner

“On the occasion of the National Day of the State of Israel, I extend congratulation to Your Excellency and the people of Israel on behalf of my nation and myself,” wrote the Turkish leader, according to a statement TV7 obtained from President Herzog’s International Media Advisor.

“In the new period in our relations, heralded by Your Excellency’s visit to our country in March, I sincerely believe that the cooperation between our countries will develop in a way that serves our mutual national interests, as well as regional peace and stability,” he added.

Herzog’s visit to Ankara two months ago marked the first such trip by an Israeli leader since 2008.

Turkish President Erdoğan’s letter also extended his “best wishes for the health and happiness of Your Excellency, and for the well-being and prosperity of the people of Israel.”

The two nations seek to cool years of disputes, primarily over Israel’s presence on the West Bank as well as Turkish support for the Islamist Hamas terror group that controls Gaza.

Despite years of diplomatic tensions, Turkey and Israel have maintained trade, which stood at $6.7 billion in 2021, up from $5 billion in 2019 and 2020, according to official data. Erdoğan has previously expressed hope that trade would reach $10 billion this year.

He also revived an idea first discussed more than 20 years ago for his economically-challenged nation o work together to carry Israeli natural gas to Europe.

The Turkish leader has been cited as saying he is “very, very hopeful” for energy cooperation with Israel, and that he intends to discuss the issue with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.after Ramadan, so “we take steps immediately, the process will accelerate for Israel-Turkey cooperation, east Mediterranean crude oil and natural gas.”

The two leaders also held a telephone conversation yesterday, during which President Herzog wished President Erdoğan a Happy Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan, who responded by hoping the holiday will bring joy, peace, and affinity throughout the region, said the statement.

He also thanked President Erdoğan for his congratulatory letter on the occasion of Israel’s 74th Independence Day, which is celebrated from sundown tomorrow through Thursday night; and expressed hope they must keep working in cooperation with each other for the benefit of both nations.

The two leaders discussed the importance of open and ongoing dialogue for the maintenance of calm and stability in the whole region, especially in present times.