Turkey condemns Israeli minister's ‘provocative’ al-Aqsa visit

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Turkey on Wednesday condemned Israel's new far-right national security minister's “provocative” visit to Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque compound and urged future restraint.

“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.

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.

Cavusoglu told his new Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen that the two should “work together to improve bilateral relations”, his office said.

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