Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (right) and his Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen address a joint press conference at the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara on February 14, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

ANKARA: Israeli airlines will resume direct flights to Turkey as a mark of a continued improvement in bilateral relations, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said on Tuesday, predicting a 25 per cent increase in tourism this year.

The first such flight will depart on Thursday, Cohen told reporters during what he described as a solidarity visit to Turkey, which credited Israel for sending relief delegations after last week’s earthquake.

An Israeli official said the flights were resuming as part of an airline security agreement reached last year, with the two nations rebuilding ties strained by disputes over Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians.

“I would like to update you that Israeli flights will renew in two days from now, and all the three major companies in Israel will renew their flights to Turkey,” Cohen said.

“We will definitely warm the important relations between your important and beautiful country and Israel,” he added, predicting that a million Israelis would visit Turkey in 2023, up from 800,000 who went last year aboard foreign airlines.