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First call between Turkish, Israeli FMs overshadowed by Ben-Gvir

Turkey's foreign minister told his newly appointed Israeli counterpart that the Israeli security minister's visit to the Jerusalem holy site was "unacceptable."

The first contact between the top Turkish diplomat and his new Israeli counterpart got off to a rocky start on Wednesday when Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Eli Cohen that Itamar Ben-Gvir’s visit to a Jerusalem holy site was “unacceptable.”

Cavusoglu described Israeli National Security Minister Ben-Gvir’s visit to Temple Mount, known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif, as “a provocative action,” during a congratulatory phone call to Israel's new foreign minister on his new post, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. Cavusoglu “reminded” Cohen of Turkey's “sensitivities and expectations,” according to the statement. The Turkish Foreign Ministry also condemned the move, calling on Israel “to act responsibly,” earlier in the week.

Wednesday's phone call between the two top diplomats was the first since the formation of the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government. During his previous tenure, Turkey-Israel ties witnessed a series of crises.  

The two countries fully restored their  diplomatic ties in August after years of locking horns. However, Netenyahu’s return to power has fueled fears that the swiftly improving ties between the two countries could derail under the new hardliner Israeli government. Yet, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, usually an outspoken ally of the Palestinian cause, has maintained his silence on the controversial visit, indicating that Ankara is willing to maintain the current course.

Erdogan's congratulatory message to Netanyahu in November soon after the Israeli elections and a following phone call between the two leaders on Nov. 18 has been widely seen as sign of both sides burying the hatchet.

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