Ben-Eliezer Leaves for Talks in Turkey

Industry and Trade Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer is set to leave Sunday evening for talks in Istanbul and Ankara.

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Uzi Baruch and Hana Levi Julian, | updated: 12:58

Binyamin Ben-Eliezer
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Industry and Trade Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer is set to leave Sunday evening for talks in Istanbul and Ankara regarding relations between Israel and Turkey on various policy levels.

Ben-Eliezer will be accompanied by President of the Manufacturers Association, Shraga Brosh, who will be leading a delegation of Israeli businesspeople. Also involved in the various committee meetings will be MK Eli Aflalo (Kadima) and the Director-General of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Sharon Kedmi.

Ben-Eliezer said prior to leaving that he hopes his discussions on economic policies can help get the important relationship between the two countries back on to its former track. Prior to the launch of last winter's counterterrorist Operation Cast Lead against the constant rocket attacks fired from Gaza, Turkey was considered a close strategic partner of Israel in the region. Recent tensions have changed that, however.

"Turkey has a special place in my heart, a special connection with Israel," Ben-Eliezer said. "As a regional power and Muslim democracy, Turkey has the ability to bridge the gaps between us and our neighbors and bring about normalization and co-existence in the region."

Ben-Eliezer praised the establishment of the joint economic committee as a bridge for cooperation between the two nations. "I am leaving with a delegation of businesspeople who are motivated to deepen economic ties between our countries, and to bring a message to the Turkish people and to those at the highest economic levels of the country," he said, "because Israel sees this relationship as very important."

"Israel and Turkey are natural trading partners, enjoy close geographic proximity, and a historically strong bond with solid friendship between the our two peoples. That friendship is expressed in a large number of Israelis who travel each year to Turkey as tourists. The economies of both countries complement each other in most important sectors," he noted.

A joint business seminar for Israel and Turkey is slated to be held in Istanbul, and meetings are planned between Israeli business owners and leading Turkish companies.

Boaz Hirsch, head of the International Trade and Industry Foreign Trade Administration, indicated that the joint economic committee usually meets at least once a year at the request of one of the countries.

Imports from Turkey rose from $250 million in 1997 to nearly $2 billion last year, with exports to the country also increasing from $200 million in 1996 to $1.56 billion in 2008.