Turkish tourism minister visits Israel

Turkey's tourism minister, Nabi Avci, becomes first member of his country's cabinet to visit Israel since 2010.

Elad Benari ,

Turkish flag
Turkish flag

Turkey's tourism minister on Tuesday became the first member of his country's cabinet to visit Israel since 2010.

The Turkish minister, Nabi Avci, met his Israeli counterpart Yariv Levin (Likud) in Tel Aviv.

"I think the bilateral relationship between Israel and Turkey is a crucial component to the stability of the region and an essential component to boost economic growth," Levin said at a news conference, according to AFP.

Avci hailed Israeli tourists to Turkey, saying it was his country's duty "to host tourists coming from Israel in the best possible way."

Avci’s visit follows the reconciliation agreement signed between Israel and Turkey this past June, six years after their relations deteriorated after the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident.

In that incident, IDF soldiers boarded the Marmara after the Islamists on board, who claimed they were carrying humanitarian aid for Gaza, refused to reverse course and dock at the Ashdod Port.

Upon boarding the ship, the soldiers were attacked by the Islamists with clubs and knives, forcing the troops to open fire and killing 10 of the activists on board.

Under the reconciliation deal, Israel paid Turkey $20 million in compensation for the deaths of the 10 pro-Hamas Turkish assailants.

The agreement also provides for normalization of relations, the removal of sanctions the countries have imposed on one another, an increase in the level of diplomatic relations, and an exchange of ambassadors.

Last week, the Director-General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Yuval Rotem, travelled to Turkey where he held a diplomatic dialogue with local officials, for the first time in over six years.

Avci’s visit came on the same day on which Turkey condemned the passage in the Knesset of the Regulation Law.

"We strongly condemn the Israeli parliament's adoption of a law that gives approval to various settlements consisting of 4,000 units built on the private property of the Palestinians," the foreign ministry said.

The issue of the Regulation Law, however, did not come up at the press conference between Levin and Avci.