Turkey’s Erdogan Meets American Jewish Leaders; Netanyahu Says Normalizing Ties ‘Two Way Street’

Turkish Erdogan

Israel is interested in restoring severed ties with Turkey, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted that this is a “two way street,” the Jerusalem Post reported

Netanyahu made his comments during a tour of the newly established security fence along the Jordanian border on Tuesday, the same day Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, met in Turkey with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and 20 other heads of U.S. Jewish organizations.

Asked if Hoenlein was bringing a message from Jerusalem, Netanyahu said, “I will be happy to hear what they told him.”

Two months ago, a secret meeting took place in Geneva between senior Turkish and Israeli officials. Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office said at the time that Ankara and Jerusalem were on the cusp of normalizing ties.

Since then, however, there has been no change in the relationship between the two countries.

On Tuesday, the Turkish daily Hurriyet said Erdogan’s meeting with “influential Jewish lobbying groups” in the U.S. is “a sign of Ankara’s willingness to normalize bilateral ties with Israel.”

The newspaper also reported that Turkish Jewish Community President Ishak Ibrahimzadeh took part in the closed-door meeting at Erdogan’s presidential palace.

In December, Erdogan made his first mollifying statement toward Israel in years, saying that restoring Turkish-Israeli ties would have “a lot to offer to us, to Israel, to Palestine, and also to the region.”

Prior to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s meeting with Erdogan in Turkey, Netanyahu met with him in Davos last month.

Biden is heavily involved in trying to push normalization forward, and according to the Post is using the possibility of a natural gas pipeline from Israel to Turkey as a common-interest issue that might bring the two states together.