Turkey to welcome Abbas after restoring Israel ties

AFP , Tuesday 23 Aug 2022

Turkey said Tuesday that its restoration of full diplomatic relations with Israel did not mean a shift in Middle Eastern allegiances as it warmly welcomed Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Abbas and Erdogan
A meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan in 2021. AFP

The Palestinian leader met President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks and a private dinner on his second visit to Turkey in a year.

The talks came just a week after Turkey and Israel sealed a rapprochement from a decade of rocky relations by announcing plans to reappoint ambassadors for the first time in four years.

Erdogan has been a fervent supporter of the Palestinian cause who has branded Israel a "terrorist state".

He held the veteran Palestinian leader by the hand while gingerly walking him down a turquoise carpet to his presidential palace before a welcoming guard.

"The steps taken in our relations with Israel will in no way diminish our support for the Palestinian cause," Erdogan later told a joint media event.

"Turkey defends its vision of a two-state solution on every platform, and we have clearly demonstrated our response to the Israeli attacks and civilian casualties."

Abbas did not mention Turkish-Israeli relations in his comments but thanked Erdogan for his past support.

"I would like to thank you for the close attention and hospitality you have shown us," Abbas told Erdogan.

"I would like to reiterate my gratitude for the fact that Turkey and the Turkish government are on the side of Palestine."

Abbas's visit is widely seen as an attempt by Turkey to show that it stood by old allies even as it repairs relations with more recent rivals.

Turkey has gradually mended fences across the volatile region as it seeks new deals and investments to help recover from its most profound economic crisis in more than two decades.

The warming with the Jewish state is accompanied by plans to restore direct flights by Israeli airlines between the two countries that could bring in more tourists to Turkey's resorts.

Turkey is also hoping to revive an east Mediterranean natural gas pipeline project that won tentative backing from the United States last year.

Cavusoglu said Palestinian leaders also "want our relations with Israel to be normalised".

"They also know that thanks to this dialogue, we will better defend the Palestinian cause," he said.

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