Hundreds of demonstrators burnt the Israeli flag in a gathering in Taksim Square, where they also shouted “Death to Israel” and “Death to America.”
The protesters denounced any normalization with the regime in Tel Aviv and vowed to support the Palestinian cause.
Herzog was scheduled to depart for Turkey on Wednesday in an attempt to improve the frigid Tel Aviv-Ankara ties.
The bilateral ties hit their nadir in 2010 following an Israeli naval raid on a Turkish aid ship that was en route to the blockaded Gaza Strip to deliver humanitarian aid. The raid resulted in the death of 10 activists.
In 2013, Turkish-Israeli relations entered a period of normalization after the then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued an apology to Turkey, and the Tel Aviv regime paid $20 million in compensation to the humanitarian mission victims. Turkey and Israel reappointed ambassadors as part of the reconciliation deal in December 2016.
Relations broke down again in 2018, after Turkey, angered by the United States moving its embassy to the occupied al-Quds, once more recalled its ambassador from Israel, prompting the Tel Aviv regime to also recall its envoy.
Herzog’s two-day visit to Turkey marks the highest-level trip by an Israeli official since former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s 2008 visit. The visit comes upon the invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to the Israeli presidency. It also follows a series of public quarrels between Erdogan and Netanyahu, who occasionally attacked each other in recent years.
Erdogan has called Netanyahu a “terrorist,” an “occupier,” and a “tyrant.” But the Turkish president announced last month that the Israeli president would visit Turkey in March, saying it would be good for Turkey-Israel relations. He also said a possible gas partnership would be on the agenda of Herzog’s visit.
Before his departure for Turkey, Herzog said relations between Israel and Turkey were important but added that, “We will not agree on everything.”