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Erdoğan hints at seeking Israel, Egypt thaw after UAE talks

Normalization of Turkey’s relations with Israel and Egypt is likely, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters on board his plane returning from a visit to Qatar, the Gazete Duvar news website reported on Wednesday.

“We gladly accepted when a request to this end was made by the Abu Dhabi administration and conducted our talks gradually by dispatching our intelligence chief and foreign minister. Why not [initiate] such a process with Israel?” Erdoğan said concerning a recent rapprochement with the United Arab Emirates.

The Turkish president reminded that he had talks with Israeli officials in the past.

Erdoğan spoke by phone last month with Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog in a rare exchange between the two countries, urging continued dialogue, stressing mutual interests.

The phone call came a few hours after an Israeli couple held in Turkey for a week on suspicion of espionage was released.

Erdoğan, however, stressed that Israel has to act carefully regarding its Palestine policy, Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, adding, “When we witness their goodwill in this regard, we will do our best to take steps.”

Responding to a question about the mutual re-appointment of ambassadors, Erdoğan indicated that this would be likely if Israel takes into consideration Turkey’s priorities.

Ties between Turkey and the UAE were strained over regional issues, but Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed’s visit to Ankara last week improved relations as the countries sealed multi-billion-dollar investments.

Turkey and Egypt broke off relations after the 2013 overthrow of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who was supported by Erdoğan.

They expelled their respective ambassadors and downgraded their relations in 2013.

In 2018, Turkey ordered Israel’s ambassador out of the country over the killing of protestors along the Gaza Strip.

Turkey sought rapprochement with Egypt earlier this year despite supporting opposing sides in the conflict in Libya.

In March, Ankara said it had established its first diplomatic contacts with Cairo since 2013, while the Turkish foreign minister in April heralded a “new era” in ties with Egypt.

The two countries held talks again in September as efforts continued towards normalizing their relations without significant progress.

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