Israeli President Isaac Herzog will make stops in both Greece and Cyprus before his planned visit to Turkey for talks with President Recept Tayyip Erdogan.
“The trips are meant to assure Athens and Nicosia that a rapprochement with Ankara will not come at the expense of the close ties Israel has developed with them in recent years,” the Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday.
Herzog will be in Athens for one day next Thursday and for half a day in Cyrpus the next week.
The Post noted that Herzog’s visit to Turkey will be the first trip made by an Israeli leader in over a decade, as the two countries have been embroiled in disagreements for years. The two countries have butted heads over various issues in 2021.
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Erdogan had previously told French President Emmanuel Macron at the G20 Summit in November that Turkey would not be part of the Paris conference on Libya due to Israel, Greece, and Cyprus’s involvement. Just a week later, a vacationing Israeli couple was held in Turkey on espionage charges for casually taking a photo of the Dolmabahce Palace.
Erdogan explained his position on the Paris conference in a statement:
“France aims to hold a conference on Libya similar to the previous Berlin conference”, Erdogan said.
“We cannot attend the Paris conference in which Greece, Israel and the Greek Cypriot administration participate. We told Macron that if these countries are to attend the conference, then there is also no need to send special representatives.”
Erdogan has clearly indicated a refusal to work with other countries who are allies — like Greece — with the North African country in which Turkey has a continued military presence.
Erdogan told Macron that Turkey’s relationship with Libya is part of an arrangement with the Libyan government, and is protected under the former Government of National Accord signed in November 2019.
He also denied the accusation that Turkey is an unwanted and illegal mercenary force in Libya, saying that “Our soldiers there are instructors.”
Israeli couple took a photo of former presidential Palace — that is now a museum
The vacationing Israeli couple who were arrested in Turkey last November after they took a photo of a palace that was the former residence of the country’s rulers is facing espionage charges.
The couple, Mordy Oknin and his wife Natali, were on vacation in Turkey when they snapped a photo of Dolmabahce Palace, which was once the home of Turkey’s rulers until 1923.
The building was only recently ruled a no-go area for photography.
The Oknins, who are in their 40s and who own a taxi service in Israel, were detained and later arrested by Turkish authorities for taking the photo from the Çamlıca Tower, which is used for communications.
The Oknins’ lawyer, Nir Yaslovitzh, told reporters that “Their only offense involves their photographing Erdogan’s palace during an innocent boat trip.”