HAIFA, Israel (Reuters) – A Turkish warship has docked in Israel for the first such visit in more than a decade as relations between the U.S. allies improve following fierce feuding over the Palestinian cause.
The frigate Kemalreis docked in Haifa on Saturday as part of NATO manoeuvres in the Mediterranean sea, a Turkish official said. An Israeli official said Ankara had submitted a preliminary request for the crew to disembark on shore leave.
A Haifa port official said it was the first time a Turkish naval vessel had visited since at least 2010, when bilateral ties were shattered by Israel’s storming of a pro-Palestinian aid convoy that tried to breach its blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Ten Turks were killed by Israeli marines in that incident.
For its part, Israel has voiced objections at NATO-member Turkey’s hosting of members of Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist movement that is proscribed as a terrorist group in the West.
But the countries have moved to mend their relationship in recent months, with energy emerging as a key area for potential cooperation. They are expected to appoint new ambassadors soon.
(Writing by Dan Williams, Ali Kucukgocmen, Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Frances Kerry)