Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday called his Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen to express concern over National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount a day earlier.
“We find the provocative action of Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir against the Al-Aqsa Mosque unacceptable,” Cavusoglu’s office quoted him as telling Cohen.
According to the Israeli readout, Cohen assured Cavusoglu that Israel is committed to the status quo on the Temple Mount, vowing that religious freedom will be protected for all faiths.
Turkey was among the countries that condemned the far-right minister’s visit to the flashpoint site.
Ben-Gvir’s visit Tuesday — held on the 10th of Tevet, a Jewish fast day mourning the events that led to the destruction of the Temple — was his first trip to the holy site since taking up his ministerial post last week.
The visit by Ben Gvir, whose ministry is in charge of policing, was held after an assessment with security and police officials, his office said in a statement.
The Temple Mount is revered by Jews as the historic location of the two Jewish Temples, making it Judaism’s holiest site. It is also the third-holiest for Muslims, who refer to it as the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound or the Noble Sanctuary.
Provocations and violence at the site have frequently turned into wider conflagrations.
During their phone call on Wednesday, Cavusoglu and Cohen also discussed expanding ties, especially the economic relationship, and noted the importance of the recent mutual return of ambassadors.
Last week, Israel’s envoy to Ankara presented her letter of credentials to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, filling a post that had been vacant for more than four years.
In August of this year, Israel and Turkey announced the full renewal of diplomatic ties after two years of slow reconciliation, which picked up pace noticeably with mutual visits by senior officials.
After Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s election victory in November, Erdogan and Netanyahu held a very positive phone call, sources told The Times of Israel, with both leaders pledging not to surprise the other.
Times of Israel staff and AFP contributed to this report.