Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip ErdoganReuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he is open to improved relations with Israel, but the country must first display “more sensitive” policies toward Palestinian Arabs.

Erdogan made the comments in a discussion with a group of journalists in Qatar on Tuesday and quoted by The Associated Press.

The Turkish President said, according to the report that better ties with Israel would be “beneficial” for peace in the wider region.

“But at this point, Israel needs to be more sensitive concerning its Palestinian policy. It needs to be sensitive about Jerusalem and al-Aqsa Mosque,” he added.

“As soon as we detect the sensitivities, we will do our best and take steps (for better ties),” Erdogan said.

Turkey and Israel 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 after the deal was signed, Erdogan has continued to verbally attack Israel. Several months ago, however, President Isaac Herzog and Erdogan held a lengthy conversation shortly after Herzog took office.

The two also spoke earlier this month, following the release of Israeli couple Mordy and Natali Oknin from a Turkish prison.

The conversation was conducted in a positive spirit. During the conversation, Erdogan emphasized the importance that he attaches to relations with Israel, which he said were of key importance to the peace, stability, and security of the Middle East.

Erdogan recently vowed to take steps to improve relations with Egypt and Israel similar to those taken with the UAE.