On Wednesday, Presidents Rivlin and Erdogan spoke, expressing their condolences and mutual appreciation. Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold visited the scene of the attack in Istanbul, expressing his hopes that a resolution between the two countries can be reached.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke to his Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin by telephone on Wednesday, expressing his condolences for the deaths of three Israelis in the March 19 Istanbul terrorist bombing.

Terror is terror, life is life, and blood is blood, whether it is in Istanbul, Brussels, Paris or Jerusalem, Rivlin said; we must all stand together in the fight against this terrible evil. Erdoğan responded, telling Rivlin that Israel and Turkey need to stand together in the face of terrorism, along with the international community, and take a firm stance.

Presidents Erdogan and Rivlin. A warm conversation. (Photo: AP, AFP, Emil Salman)
Presidents Erdogan and Rivlin. A warm conversation. (Photo: AP, AFP, Emil Salman)


This rare conversation, another indication of warming relations between Turkey and Israel following the attack in Istanbul, comes after Erdoğan sent a condolence letter to Rivlin. The last conversation between Erdoğan and an Israeli leader was three years ago, when PM Netanyahu and President Erdoğan spoke on the phone during US President Obama’s visit to Israel.

Rivlin thanked Erdoğan for sending the condolence letter, and the Turkish president responded by further emphasizing his sorrow for the fate of the Israeli victims.

Rivlin thanked Erdoğan once more, and expressed his condolences for the Turkish people, saying that he’d like to thank President Erdoğan for all the care he expressed towards the Israeli citizens, and for his help in bringing the victims back to Israel with dignity.

Foreign Ministry Director General in Istanbul

Foreign Ministry Director General Dr. Dore Gold visited Istanbul on Sunday, arriving at the scene of the attack that killed three Israelis: Avraham Goldman, Simcha Damari and Yonatan Shor. This is the first visit by the Foreign Ministry Director in Turkey in the past five years.

Gold stated that bilateral relations are taking a step forward, as Israel and Turkey find themselves on the same side in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism. He expressed his hope that with good will and understanding, the two sides can reach an agreement, citing similar statements from Turkish officials as a positive indication of success.

Gold toured the Istikalal Street area, where the attack occurred, alongside Gilad Cohen, Deputy Director of Coordination in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The two met with members of the Jewish community, including the chief rabbi of Turkey, Ishak Haleva. They also met with Israeli emissaries in Turkey and comforted them in these hard times. Gold met with Turkish Foreign Ministry Director General Feridun Sinirlioğlu and discussed the reconciliation talks.

Dr. Dore Gold. Hopes for an agreement soon. (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Dr. Dore Gold. Hopes for an agreement soon. (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


“There is no doubt that the Turkish authorities did the maximum to help Israelis who were in distress and remove the bureaucratic barriers that normally exist after such events.”

Gold expressed his appreciation for the Turkish authorities’ work in helping Israeli victims of the attack, removing bureaucratic obstacles and expediting processes. When asked if he believed the terrorists targeted the Israeli tourists, Gold said the investigation will take time, and that Turkish authorities were working intensively on finding answers for questions such as that one.

Istanbul's Istiklal Street, following the attack. (Photo: Getty Images)
Istanbul’s Istiklal Street, following the attack. (Photo: Getty Images)


Israeli Consul General in Istanbul Shai Cohen stated that even if it turns out that the attack was not aimed directly against Israelis, the two countries should take special care to find a way of cooperating and preventing such attacks in the future.

Turkish security officials say that since the attack caused 40 casualties, and a third of them Israelis, it is difficult to assess whether the terrorist intended to specifically target the Israeli tourists. It seems that he sought to harm a large crowd of people.

Security officials believe that if he wanted to harm Israelis in particular, he would have entered the restaurant where they were dining earlier and blown himself up inside it. Turkey informed Israel of progress in investigating the attack and also gave Israel information about the terrorist, who is known as an ISIS operative.

As reported by Ynetnews