Honeymoon over? Turkey’s FM wants to visit Temple Mount — without Israelis

Turkey-Israel relations have warmed up recently, but Cavusoglu’s plan to visit the contentious site is reportedly creating renewed tension.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

In recent months, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been making overtures to the Israelis, seeking to improve ties between the two countries.

Israel and Turkey had suspended diplomatic relations for six years after the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident. Nine Turkish nationals were killed aboard a ship which was attempting to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.

As ties were improving, President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog arrived for a state visit to Turkey at the invitation of Erdoğan. It was the first state visit to Turkey by an Israeli leader since 2008. He was greeted with the playing of Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem.

But last month, when Israeli police were dealing with extreme violence on the Temple Mount during the Muslim month of Ramadan, Turkey joined the choir of Arab countries that blamed Israel for the unrest.

Israeli police were forced to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to disperse violent rioters who were desecrating the site and endangering the public. Arab youth were throwing rocks and firebombs at Israeli police as well as at Jewish worshipers praying at the Western Wall below.

All the “friendly” Arab countries who had signed accords with Israel — including Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, Morocco and Bahrain — condemned the Jewish State.

“I strongly condemn Israel’s interventions against the worshipers in al-Aqsa Mosque,” Erdogan tweeted. “Turkey is always on the side of Palestine. The events remind us of the necessity for all Palestinian groups to work toward unity and reconciliation.”

However, Erdogan said in a statement, Turkey will “maintain its ties with Israel despite the incidents at Al-Aqsa Mosque because strong relations with Israel are key to defending Palestinian rights.”

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu is expected to arrive in Israel next week, but his plans for the visit are creating friction, Kan News reported. The diplomat announced his plan to visit the Temple Mount without Israeli accompaniment, which is opposed by the Shin Bet, Israel’s Security Agency, which is concerned about the need to follow security protocol.

Cavusoglu was originally scheduled to visit Jerusalem last month but it was postponed due to the Ramadan tensions.