(Palestine Information Network and Agencies)

       President of the Israeli State, Isaac Herzog met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday afternoon, shortly after landing in Ankara for a “landmark” 24-hour visit.

       In remarks to the media, Erdogan said he believed that “this historic visit will be a turning point in relations between Turkey and Israel. Strengthening relations with the State of Israel has great value for our country.”

  He noted that the meeting with Herzog included a discussion about events in Ukraine and in the Eastern Mediterranean and said he believed “the coming period will bring new opportunities for both regional and bilateral cooperation.”

  The Turkish leader expressed hope that “this important visit, taking place after so long, will provide an opening for future joint opportunities.”

  Arriving at the presidential complex in Ankara, Herzog was greeted by Erdogan and an honor guard, as a band played the Israeli anthem for the first time since 2008.

  Prior to his meeting with Erdogan, Herzog visited the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding father of secular Turkey, and laid a wreath.

  “It is a distinct privilege to be visiting this historic site, immortalizing the great visionary Mustafa Kemal Ataturk,” he wrote in English.

  “May we follow in the wisdom of this great leader’s legacy of progress and peace, boldly choosing the path of collaboration and welcoming the many fruits to be reaped from the promise of a safer and more stable world for our nations, our faiths, our region and the world,” he added.

  It had been announced that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is set to visit Israel next month, as both nations seek to rekindle the once warm relations between the countries.

  Cavusoglu is expected to meet with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and discuss the reopening of embassies in both countries.

  Regarding Palestine, Erdogan said he raised his concerns in his meeting with Herzog, and stressed the need to improve the Palestinian economy as well as “the preservation of al-Aqsa.” Two states living side by side remains an important goal, he reportedly added.

  An Al-Jazeera correspondent highlighted demonstrations and protests that occurred across

Turkey rejecting the visit of the Israeli president. Turkish activists burned Israeli flags on the road to the airport where the Herzog plane landed in Ankara and instead raised Palestinian flags.

       Islamic civil society organizations also organized demonstrations in Ankara, Istanbul and other Turkish provinces to protest against the Israeli president’s visit.

  In the protest that took place in front of the Israeli embassy in Ankara, the demonstrators chanted slogans against the United States and Israel, and carried pictures of the Turkish martyrs who lost their lives when assassinated by Israeli soldiers onboard the Mavi Marmara. Israeli flags were also burned.

  “We will not forget the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian martyrs, and in the name of the sanctity of Al-Quds and Masjid al-Aqsa, this visit must be confronted, as it is a step towards normalizing relations with Israel,” said the press statement, which was read out by a representative of the Anatolian Youth Association.

  On the sidelines of the protest, Zaki Qanat (one of those wounded by Israeli terrorism onboard the Mavi Marmara) said in an interview with Al Jazeera that Herzog’s arrival in Turkey was a “disgrace.”

  In the same context, a Turkish Islamic Party issued a statement against the Israeli president’s visit, saying, “The visit of the murderer Herzog to Turkey has seriously harmed our nation. This visit means betrayal of the Palestinian cause.”

  The statement called on the Turkish president to sever relations with Israel, and said, “Israel wants to sell the gas it stole from our Palestinian brothers to Europe through Turkey. The Turkish government should not mediate to enable Israeli theft, as our nation does not accept such an agreement that legitimizes Israeli terrorism.”

  He stressed that Turkey’s normalization with Israel will only bring occupation and massacres to Palestine, and can only bring evil to Turkey.

(Palestine Information Network and Agencies)

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