President Tayyip Erdogan said late on Wednesday he wanted to maintain Turkey‘s relations with Israel based on mutual understanding, no matter the election outcome, as former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looked set to return to power.
Erdogan’s comment, in an interview with Turkish broadcaster ATV, came amid a thaw in long-strained ties between Turkey and Israel. Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Ankara this year in the first visit to Turkey by an Israeli leader since 2008.
“Whatever the election result, we want to maintain relations with Israel on a sustainable basis, based on mutual respect for sensitivities and common interests,” Erdogan said.
Netanyahu was set to gain power in one of the most right-wing coalitions in Israel’s history, causing jitters among Palestinians and Arab neighbours who fear it could ratchet up tensions across the Middle East.
Relations between Israel and Turkey have been strained for more than a decade, with Ankara having expelled Israel’s ambassador following a 2010 Israeli raid on an aid ship to Gaza, which killed ten Turkish citizens.
Diplomatic relations were restored in 2016, but two years later Turkey recalled its diplomats from Israel and expelled Israeli envoys when Israeli forces killed a number of Palestinians who had taken part in protests in the Gaza Strip.