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Israel, Turkey to expand mutual flights in their first aviation deal since 1951

Israel's President Isaac Herzog and Michal Herzog speak to the press before the departure for an official visit to Turkey on March 9, 2022 at the tarmac of Ben Gurion Airport. - Israel's president heads to Turkey to meet his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the first visit by an Israeli head of state since 2007, as the countries seek to mend fractured ties. (Photo by Daphné LEMELIN / AFP)

Israel and Turkey will expand bilateral airline traffic under a new aviation deal to be signed on Thursday, their first since 1951, Reuters reported, citing Israel’s Transportation Ministry.

“The agreement is expected to result in the resumption of flights by Israeli companies to a variety of destinations in Turkey, alongside flights by Turkish companies to Israel,” it said in a statement.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog made a landmark visit to Ankara in March to rebuild relations with his Turkish counterpart, with both leaders proclaiming a new era following more than a decade of diplomatic rupture.

Relations between Turkey and Israel began to fray following an Israeli military operation in Gaza in 2008. Ties then froze following the death of 10 civilians in an Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara, part of a Turkish flotilla attempting to breach a blockade by carrying aid into Gaza in 2010.

A 2016 reconciliation agreement that saw the return of ambassadors all but collapsed in 2018 in the wake of Gaza border clashes that killed dozens of Palestinians.

Following the 2018 Gaza bloodshed, Turkey recalled its diplomats and ordered Israel’s envoy out of the country.

The countries are now considering reappointing ambassadors.

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