Turkey and Israel flags
Turkey and Israel flagsiStock

Turkey and Israel have agreed to work towards improving their strained relations after a rare phone call between their presidents, a spokesman for Turkey's ruling AK Party said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Israel's new president, Isaac Herzog, to congratulate him on taking office.

"A framework emerged after this call under which advances should be made on several issues where improvements can be made, and where steps towards solving problematic areas should be taken," spokesman Omer Celik said after an AK Party meeting on Wednesday.

Celik singled out Palestinian Arabs as one of many issues Turkey wants to discuss with Israel, adding that areas such as tourism and trade should be a "win-win" for both nations.

While Israel and Turkey have diplomatic relations, those relations have been strained in recent years as Erdogan, who is a strong advocate of Palestinian Arab rights, has frequently criticized Israel.

The two countries signed a comprehensive reconciliation deal in 2016, ending a six-year diplomatic standoff following a violent encounter between Israeli soldiers and Islamist radicals on a ship attempting to break through the security blockade on Gaza.

Even since the signing of that agreement, the Islamist Turkish President has continued his verbal attacks on Israel.

In the past, Erdogan has accused Israel of being a “terrorist state”, and called former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “terrorist”, after IDF forces opened fire on infiltrators during a Hamas-led confrontation on the Israel-Gaza border.

He also stated that his country will oppose anyone who supports Israel and that Turkey will continue to promote the Palestinian cause regardless of efforts to undermine it mainly by supporters of the Israeli regime.

Erdogan’s phone call to Herzog took place just two days after he hosted Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas and stated that Turkey did not and will not remain silent against the “Israeli oppression” of Palestinian Arabs.

Erdogan stressed during the meeting that peace and stability in the region will not be possible as long as “the Israeli occupation” continues, saying Turkey did not and will not remain silent about Israel's atrocities in “Palestine”.