Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid thanked Turkey on Thursday for thwarting an Iranian assassination plot against Israeli tourists in Istanbul. Lapid, who is currently visiting in Ankara, also said that the travel alert warning against Israeli civilians traveling to Turkey may soon be lifted.
Lapid is expected to become Israel’s prime minister next week as the Knesset is set to dissolve. In a meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Lapid said, “We have complete appreciation for the Turkish government for this professional and coordinated activity.”
“Iran is behind these attempted terrorist attacks. Intelligence leaves no doubt about it. This is a clear violation of Turkish sovereignty by Iranian terror. We are confident that Turkey knows how to respond to the Iranians on this matter," he added.
His remarks came after Turkey reported detaining eight members of an alleged Iranian cell. Its members were planning to kidnap and assassinate Israeli diplomats and tourists visiting or living in Istanbul. Turkish security forces have reportedly seized four pistols and two silencers belonging to that cell.
The Turkish Minister vowed that his country “will never allow such revenge and terror attacks against Israelis.”
In a shared press conference, Çavuşoğlu added that Turley has already delivered the “necessary messages” to Iranian authorities.
Today, I met in Ankara with my friend @MevlutCavusoglu, the Foreign Minister of Türkiye. 🇮🇱 🇹🇷— יאיר לפיד - Yair Lapid🟠 (@yairlapid) June 23, 2022
In recent weeks, the lives of Israeli citizens have been saved thanks to security and diplomatic cooperation between Israel and Türkiye. pic.twitter.com/VENVAVVIEh
Following their meeting Lapid posted on Twitter, “In recent weeks, the lives of Israeli citizens have been saved thanks to security and diplomatic cooperation between Israel and Türkiye.”
“Just today, it was published that Turkish intelligence recently foiled an Iranian plot in Istanbul. And these efforts are ongoing. We are full of appreciation for the Turkish government for this professional and coordinated activity,” he added. “We are confident that Türkiye knows how to respond to the Iranians on this matter. For its part, Israel won’t sit idly by when there are attempts to harm its citizens in Israel and around the world.”
Lapid noted that in the last year there was great progress in the relations between Israel and Turkey. Yet despite that progress, a report by Ynet news highlighted that the two foreign ministers did not discuss the mutual return of their country’s ambassador to their post.
The Israeli outlet quoted an unnamed senior diplomatic official saying that the goal is to upgrade the relations in a “gradual manner” and “full of substance.”
The two countries withdrew their ambassadors in 2010 following the Mavi Marmara incident in which a flotilla attempted to break the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip and a violent altercation erupted in which 10 Turkish citizens were killed. In recent months, Israel and Turkey saw warming ties in their traditionally fraught relationship.
During his visit to Turkey, Lapid also met with Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey's Intelligence Agency and close ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
According to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, "It was very important to the Turks that the foreign minister chose to come to Ankara for a few hours and express Israel's appreciation and gratitude for their efforts and actions."
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.