Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s visit to Israel next week could be marred by differences with Tel Aviv regarding the Turkish top diplomat's program, political sources in Tel Aviv revealed on Friday.
“The visit is supposed to be another advanced step on the path to improving relations between the two countries and to resume full diplomatic relations and return the two ambassadors to Ankara and Tel Aviv. However, Cavusoglu’s planned trip is witnessing disagreements over security arrangements and a Turkish request that the minister visit Al-Haram Al-Sharif and Al-Aqsa Mosque without Israeli escorts,” the sources said.
Ankara is demanding that its foreign minister be treated the same way Israel treats US and European diplomats, who are allowed to visit the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, without Israeli security escorts.
The sources said Israel has tried to justify its stance by saying that Cavusoglu needed to be accompanied for security services.
Turkish intelligence dismissed Tel Aviv’s position as politically-motivated.
Last November, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan kicked off efforts to improve Ankara’s relations with Tel Aviv.
He held a rare phone conversation with his Israeli counterpart, Isaac Herzog, and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, hoping that they could cooperate over the transport of natural gas to east the Mediterranean.
In March, Erdogan welcomed Herzog in Ankara on the first trip by an Israeli leader since 2008, saying the visit will be a turning point in long-strained relations between them and that Ankara was ready for cooperate in the energy sector.
Ankara has expressed its desire to make rapid and deep steps to improve its relations, while Tel Aviv has worked at a slower pace.
Cavusoglu would arrive in Tel Aviv to agree on the return of ambassadors between the two countries.
His trip is the first public visit by a high-ranking Turkish official after Herzog’s to Turkey.
In Ramallah, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry confirmed that Cavusoglu will head his country’s delegation at a meeting of the Turkish-Palestinian joint governmental committee next Wednesday.
The meeting will discuss aspects of relations and ways to develop and strengthen them and witness the signing of a number of governmental agreements.