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Israel approves civil aviation agreement with Turkey: Israeli PM

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Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid has announced the approval of a civil aviation agreement with Turkey as the two countries continue to move steadily toward restoring full diplomatic relations.

Lapid announced on Twitter on Monday that his government had approved an agreement that allows Israeli airlines to land and take off from İstanbul and also other destinations in Turkey.

He said the agreement would benefit Israeli passengers and Israeli aviation companies in addition to being an important strategic move for stability and prosperity in the region, which will be a significant contribution to promoting relations between the two countries.

The next step is appointing ambassadors, he added.

Israel and Turkey signed an outline of the civil aviation agreement on July 7 set to replace the old agreement dating back to 1951.

Israeli airlines have been unable to fly to any destination in Turkey since 2007 because Turkish authorities refused to cooperate with Israel’s special security requirements. This has allowed Turkish airlines to monopolize the lucrative route.

The Turks refused to allow Israeli security personnel “to perform the security checks on passengers boarding flights to Israel,” according to Flightglobal.com, a leading website covering the aviation and aerospace industries.

The last time the two sides discussed a new civil aviation agreement was in 2013, in the wake of a moderate improvement in relations, but those efforts failed.

Following years of strained relations, Israel and Turkey announced the resumption of full diplomatic ties in August. The announcement followed months of bilateral efforts to repair the relationship, with reciprocal visits by top officials.

Bilateral relations began to fray in 2008, following an Israeli military operation in Gaza.

Relations then froze in 2010 after the death of 10 civilians following an Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara, part of a Turkish flotilla trying to breach a blockade and carry aid into Gaza.

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 ambassador and ordered Israel’s envoy out of the country.

The countries will reappoint ambassadors soon.

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