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Turkey Condemns Israeli Minister’s ‘Provocative’ Al-Aqsa Visit

Ben-Gvir's visit on Tuesday came just days after he took office with powers over the police, giving his decision to enter the highly sensitive site considerable weight.


A handout picture courtesy of Minhelet Har-Habait (Temple Mount Administration) shows Israeli minister and Jewish Power party chief Itamar Ben-Gvir (C) walking through the courtyard of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, known to Jews as Temple Mount, early on January 3, 2023. The move by Ben-Gvir has enraged Palestinians, while the United States warned of steps which may harm the status quo. Al-Aqsa mosque is the third-holiest place in Islam and at the same time the most sacred site to Jews. (Photo by Minhelet Har-Habait (Temple Mount Administration) / AFP)

 

Turkey on Wednesday condemned Israel’s new far-right security minister’s “provocative” visit to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, prompting reassurances from the Jewish state.

“We find the provocative action of Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir against the Al-Aqsa mosque unacceptable,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s office quoted him as telling his Israeli counterpart in a telephone call.

Ben-Gvir’s visit Tuesday came just days after he took office with powers over the police, giving his decision to enter the highly sensitive site considerable weight.

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Al-Aqsa is the third-holiest place in Islam and the most sacred site to Jews, who refer to the compound as the Temple Mount.

Ankara’s condemnation came during a warming of the sides’ relations, which froze after an Israeli raid on a Turkish ship carrying aid into the Gaza enclave killed 10 civilians in 2010.

Israel and Turkey announced last August the full restoration of relations and the return of ambassadors to both countries.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month also congratulated Benjamin Netanyahu on his return to power as prime minister, despite a history of personal animosity between the two.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen’s office confirmed that Cavusoglu conveyed Ankara’s “concerns”.

“Mr. Cohen said Israel is committed to maintaining the status-quo of the site, that this visit does not constitute a change of policy, and that freedom of worship for all religions in Jerusalem will be preserved,” his office said.