First Turkish minister visits Israel since 2010

First Turkish minister visits Israel since 2010
2 min read
08 February, 2017
Turkey's tourism minister on Tuesday became the first member of his country's cabinet to visit Israel since 2010, despite a row over settlements on Palestinian land.
Nabi Avci met his Israeli counterpart in Tel Aviv [AFP]

Turkey's tourism minister on Tuesday became the first member of his country's cabinet to visit Israel since 2010, despite a row over settlements on Palestinian land.

Nabi Avci met his Israeli counterpart Yariv Levin in Tel Aviv amid a dispute over a new law legalising dozens of West Bank illegal outposts, but the two men downplayed the issue at a news conference.

"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.

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

The visit came the same day as Turkey, a vocal supporter of the Palestinians, condemned a new Israeli law legalising dozens of Jewish settlements built on private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.

"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 visit was the first since 2010, when the two countries pulled their envoys out of their respective capitals after Israeli commandoes killed 10 Turkish activists aboard a Gaza-bound activists ship.

The rift came to an end in June last year after long-running secret talks in third countries.

Turkey is a top tourist destination for Israelis, with tens of thousands visiting each year.