Israel’s President Isaac Herzog is scheduled to arrive in Turkey on Wednesday for an in-person meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Israeli officials will warily watch for any public traps laid during the visit, the Times of Israel reported on Sunday.
For weeks, Turkish and Israeli officials have been flying back and forth between Tel Aviv and Ankara to lay out the parameters of what would be discussed by the two heads of state. Few details of what exactly will be discussed is unknown, but Israeli officials are concerned that Erdoğan may use any public appearance with Herzog as a way to embarrass Israel.
Erdoğan, a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause and a vocal critic of Israeli policies towards the group, has signaled that he looks forward to rebuilding some level of cooperation with Israel following a decade of tensions over a string of issues.
After the end of the EastMed Pipeline in January, a project backed by Israel and Greece, Erdoğan proposed that Turkey can cooperate on delivering Israeli gas to Europe, a dubious prospect according to analysts.
But Erdoğan has not publicly shown any openness to expelling members from the militant group Hamas from Turkey, a longstanding demand of Israel’s. Several senior Hamas officials are believed to now have Turkish citizenship and Erdoğan has repeated that the group’s opinion should not be disregarded as political force in the Gaza Strip.
However, it has been reported that Turkey quietly ordered Hamas members with military ties to leave, possibly in a goodwill signal to Israel. Turkish intelligence has also cooperated with Israeli counterparts in thwarting plots by Iran, an adversary of Tel Aviv and a rival of Ankara, aimed at Israeli citizens in Turkey.
Herzog’s visit will take place across two-days and will involve a visit to Istanbul’s local Jewish community.