Turkey's Erdogan condemns Israeli 'intervention' at Al-Aqsa mosque

Erdogan's comments come amid efforts by Turkey and Israel in recent weeks to normalise their long-strained ties


Reuters April 17, 2022
Turkish Presi­dent Recep Tayyip Erdogan giving a speech. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ANKARA:

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday he had told his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas that he condemned Israeli "intervention on worshippers" at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque and threats to its "status or spirit".

Erdogan's comments come amid efforts by Turkey and Israel in recent weeks to normalise their long-strained ties, as part of a regional charm offensive launched by Ankara in 2020.

On Friday, at least 152 Palestinians were wounded in clashes with Israeli riot police inside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the latest outbreak in an upsurge of violence that has raised fears of a slide back to wider conflict. 

Read more: Palestinian president makes rare visit to Israel for talks

Most of the Palestinian injuries were incurred from rubber bullets, stun grenades and beatings with police batons, the Palestine Red Crescent said.

"During our call, I told Mr Abbas that I strongly condemned Israel's intervention on worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque and that we will stand against provocations and threats to its status or spirit," Erdogan said on Twitter.

"Turkey always stands with Palestine," he added.

Erdogan later said he had discussed developments at Al-Aqsa with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, adding he Israel's "interventions and provocations" had "unacceptable" results. They also discussed possible joint steps for regional peace, Erdogan added.

Turkey has in the past launched various initiatives within the United Nations and Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) against Israeli actions towards Palestinians and its policies regarding Jerusalem or its status.

The Al-Aqsa compound sits atop the Old City plateau of East Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, and is known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif, or The Noble Sanctuary, and to Jews as Temple Mount.

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Tensions this year have been heightened in part by the Muslim holy month of Ramazan coinciding with the Jewish celebration of Passover.

Regional rivals Turkey and Israel expelled ambassadors in 2018 and have often traded barbs over the Palestinian conflict, Turkish support of the Hamas militant group, which runs Gaza, and other issues.

Turkey, which supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has said it believes a rapprochement with Israel will also help find a solution to the issue, but that it would not abandon commitments to Palestinians for better ties with Israel.

Earlier this month, Erdogan had told his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog, whom he also met in Ankara last month, that Ankara expected Israeli authorities to be sensitive over Al-Aqsa during Ramadan and stressed the importance of allowing Palestinians to enter Israel. 

Last month, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he would visit Israel and Palestine with Energy Minister Fatih Donmez in mid-May and discuss the re-appointment of ambassadors with his Israeli counterpart during the visit.

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