Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a group of Jewish leaders that he planned to visit Israel, the clearest sign so far that he is intent on resetting a long-troubled relationship, JTA reported on Monday.

Erdogan also told a room full of leaders of American Jewish organizations that antisemitism is a “crime against humanity,” a meeting participant told JTA.

The meeting on Monday afternoon, convened under the auspices of the Turkish embassy and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, took place in New York City, where the United Nations General Assembly has gathered global diplomats this week, the report said.

Erdogan did not say when he would visit.

Turkey and Israel announced last month that they planned to restore full diplomatic ties, which have been ruptured since the Mavi Marmara raid in 2010.

In July of 2021, Turkey and Israel agreed to work towards improving their strained relations after a rare phone call between their presidents. In that phone call, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called President Isaac Herzog, to congratulate him on taking office.

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 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.

However, Erdogan is now seeking to tighten ties with the West as Russia drags on its war against Ukraine. He also wants to make sure Turkey is involved in energy exploration development in the eastern Mediterranean, which until now has been led by Israel and Greece.