Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu wants to visit the Temple Mount during his upcoming trip to Israel, which could occur as early as this week, according to KAN News.
The Foreign Ministry said that details about an upcoming Çavuşoğlu visit were “not yet closed” and that therefore it had no response to the report.
It is unusual for a visiting dignitary to Israel to also visit the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as al-Haram, al-Sharif. The Islamic Wakf, which administers the site, has said that it has no details of such a visit.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been a vocal advocate for Palestinian sovereignty over east Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, where al-Aqsa Mosque compound is located.
According to Kan, Çavuşoğlu wants to visit the Temple Mount without Israeli officials or security. It’s a move that would be taken as a subtle recognition of Palestinian sovereignty over the site.
Such a visit is likely to increase tension to the volatile site.
Çavuşoğlu spoke last month of visiting Israel to continue thawing relations which began with President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Istanbul in March. It was the first top-level visit since then prime minister Ehud Olmert’s in 2008, two years before the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident.
Çavuşoğlu planned, among other things, to discuss the reposting of ambassadors to embassies in Ankara and Tel Aviv.
Energy Minister Fatih Donmez was slated to arrive with Çavuşoğlu. Turkey has been interested in a natural gas joint pipeline that could provide Europe with an alternative to dependence on Russia.