Free Trade Agreement Between Turkey And Israel
In Turkey`s 2002 elections, the Justice and Development Party, also known as the AKP, won a landslide victory. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Israel in 2005 and offered to mediate peace in the Middle East and establish trade and military relations. Erdogan brought a large group of businessmen for his two-day trip, which included talks with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President Moshe Katsav. Erdogan also laid a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.   Erdogan told Sharon that his Justice and Development Party considered anti-Semitism a “crime against humanity.” He added that Iran`s nuclear ambitions posed not only a threat to Israel, but to “the whole world.”  Turkey is a popular tourist destination for Israelis. Istanbul is 90 minutes from Tel Aviv. No visa is required for Israelis visiting Turkey, while Turkish citizens with ordinary passports must obtain a visa before travelling to Israel.  In 2008, before the Gaza war in 2008/2009, according to Israeli tourism officials, 560,000 Israelis were on holiday in Turkey. In October 2010, Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov encouraged Israelis to boycott Turkey as a holiday destination in response to Turkey`s position on Gaza.  The number of Israeli tourists to Turkey fell to 300,000 in 2009 and 110,000 in 2010; Between January and August 2011, it continued to decline to about 62,000. According to the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the share of Israelis in non-tourism tourism in Turkey has increased from 3% to 0.05%. In contrast, the number of Arab tourists to Turkey increased in the first part of 2011 to about 1.4 million visitors, a jump of about 912,000 in 2009.
 Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in June 2012: “We don`t need Israeli tourists. We managed to fill their seats.  After the new coronavirus pandemic, trade relations between Turkey and Israel will improve, leading to an increase in the volume of trade between the two countries, the head of the Turkey-Israel Economic Council said on Friday. The agreement was approved by the Israeli security cabinet on 29 June by a vote of 7 to 3.  In early 2006, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs described his country`s relations with Turkey as “perfect”.  A joint Israeli-Palestinian industrial park was developed under the aegis of Turkey. Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressed Turkey`s Grand National Assembly for a day. Peres called Turkey “an important player in the Middle East in terms of the United States, Syria, the Palestinians and us.”  According to a Jerusalem Post report, a Syrian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said that Turkey was a “channel of communication” between Syria and Israel.  Earlier this month, the Turkish navy expelled an Israeli oceanographic research vessel which, with the agreement of the Cypriot government, was operating in Cypriot waters.