Israeli minister’s provocative action against Al-Aqsa ‘unacceptable’: Turkish FM

Israel's national security minister's "provocative action" against Al-Aqsa Mosque is "unacceptable," Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told his Israeli counterpart in a telephone call, the Foreign Ministry said on Jan. 4.

"We find the provocative action of Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir against the Al-Aqsa Mosque unacceptable," the ministry quoted Çavuşoğlu as telling Israel's Eli Cohen.

Ankara expects "all kinds of provocative actions to be avoided," Çavuşoğlu said, stressing the importance Türkiye attaches to preserving the status of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Cohen's office confirmed that Çavuşoğlu conveyed Ankara's "concerns."

The Turkish minister also congratulated Cohen for assuming his new post.

"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.

The ultranationalist Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir Ben-Gvir's visit on Jan. 3 came just days after he took office with powers over the police, giving his decision to enter the highly sensitive site considerable weight. 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.

"The Israeli government won't surrender to a murderous organization, to a vile terrorist organization," Ben-Gvir, known for his anti-Arab rhetoric and provocative stunts, said in a video clip taken during the visit. The visit fueled fears of unrest as Palestinian militant groups threatened to act in response.

Türkiye's condemnation over the incident came during a warming of the sides' relations.

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