Erdogan reported to change his policy towards Hamas with some terror group’s senior officials detained and deported as officials note Israel views policy is key factor in Israel Turkey relations

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said late on Wednesday that he would be hosting President Issac Herzog for an official visit to Turkey as early as next month.

Details, including the final date for the visit and its duration were still being discussed between the two countries.

רג'פ טאיפ ארדואן נשיא טורקיה
Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan(Photo: Reuters)


Herzog will be the first Israeli leader to visit Turkey since relations soured between the two countries in 2018, with the return of ambassadors, in the wake riots along the Israeli Gaza border resulting in the death of dozens of Palestinian protesters.

בני הזוג אוקנין במרפסת ביתם
Mordi and Natali Oknin after their release from a Turkish prison where they were held on suspicion of spying, last year (Photo: AP)


Erdogan and Herzog had spoken during the detention of an Israeli couple suspected of photographing the presidential residence in Istanbul last year.

Erdogan also called his Israeli counterpart to express condolences for the death of his mother earlier this month.

According to Turkish media reports, Erdogan instructed senior Hamas officials to leave Tukey, some indicated the president was reevaluating ties with the terror group and has begun limiting its ability to act on Turkish soil.

Certain reports also said Hamas officials were not granted long-term visas to stay in Turkey and that some Hamas members had been detained for questioning in Istanbul before being deported.

Israeli officials said they had no confirmation of the reports but added that if they were accurate, they could indicate a real change in Turkey’s policy towards Hamas.

The officials said the relations between Ankara and Jerusalem depended on Turkey’s stance towards the terror organization.

Hamas leader Khaled Mash'al with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2015
Hamas leader Khaled Mash’al with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2015 (Photo: EPA)


The officials said that they regarded the latest reporting with some suspicion, because Erdogan sees Hamas as part of the Islamic Brotherhood and is still an active patron of Hamas in Gaza.

Jerusalem was also concerned over the news that the Turkish president intended to appoint his close ally Opok Olotash, to be the next ambassador to Israel.

Olotash is seen by the Foreign Ministry, as holding strong anti-Israeli and even antisemitic views.

He stands at the head of the Turkish Foreign Ministry center of strategic studies and had published an article claiming Israel had no right to exist on Palestinian lands and was guilty of ethnic cleansing.

He also attacked the UAE’s decision to forge diplomatic relations with Israel on his Twitter feed, calling the diplomatic ties agreed on in the 2020 Abraham Accords as abnormal.

Olotash had studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and speaks Hebrew.

According to reports denied by the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Turkey was informed that Olotash would not be accepted by Israel as ambassador.

Sources versed in Israel-Turkish relations said on Wednesday that his appointment should not be accepted, but voiced concern that Jerusalem would not oppose it, in exchange for action taken by Erdogan, against Hamas in Turkey.

Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu addressing the UN Security Council during the May 2021 fighting across the Israel Gaza border
Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu addressing the UN Security Council during the May 2021 fighting across the Israel Gaza border (Photo: EPA)


The dialogue between the two countries intensified recently. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spoke with Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu in a first such conversation in 13 years.

As reported by Ynetnews