Erdoğan calls on Israel to suspend settlements, respect status quo at al-Aqsa

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid to refrain from granting approval for new settlements and to preserve the status quo at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem until elections on Nov. 1.

Erdoğan made the comments in a phone call with Lapid on Sunday, his office said. Lapid had telephoned Erdoğan on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, it said.

The latest bilateral contacts came amid efforts to mend ties between the two countries, marred by Turkey’s support for Hamas, differences over regional policy and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.  

Last week, the two governments signed an aviation agreement to increase direct flights to a variety of destinations in Turkey and Israel.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog paid an official visit to Turkey in March, kickstarting the improvement in relations. Since then, the foreign ministers of the two countries have made reciprocal visits and agreed to start a process for reinstating their respective ambassadors. Israel is also due to re-open a trade office in Istanbul on Aug. 1. More than 1,500 Israeli firms do business in Turkey.

Ties between the two countries began to fray following an Israeli military operation in Gaza in 2008. Turkey froze diplomatic relations after the death of 10 people in an Israeli military raid on the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship, part of a flotilla that was heading for Gaza in 2010.

Turkey and Israel reduced their diplomatic representation to chargé d’affaires level in 2018 after the killing of scores of Palestinians during a rally opposing a decision by the United States to move its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

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