Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer will be heading a large Israeli delegation to Turkey Sunday and meet with senior officials in an effort to alleviate Israeli-Turkish tensions.
The minister told Ynet he hopes his economic and diplomatic meetings will return relations between Israel and its strategic partner to their familiar path.
"One of the most important goals of the visit is to hold talks at the highest levels in order to prompt the relationship between the two states back into what it used to be," he said.
"Turkey has a special place in my heart and a special connection with Israel," Ben-Eliezer added. "Turkey, as a regional and Muslim-democratic power, has the ability to bridge the gaps between us and our neighbors and lead to normalization and co-existence in the region."
When asked whether he will be conveying a message to the Turks from Israel's political establishment, the minister said: "The message we have has to do with our interest in maintaining our strategic relationship with them."
"I intend to take advantage of this trip in order to do everything possible and convince them that this bilateral relationship requires us to go back to what it used to be," he said.
Officials in Israel estimate that Ben-Eliezer enjoys a special status in Turkey as result of warm ties he was able to create with various officials in Ankara over the years.
However, the minister avoided a question about the possibility that Turkey will serve as a mediator between Syria and Israel.
"I don't want to answer a question about Turkey as a mediator," he said. "Keep something for my return."