Erdoğan discusses escalation at al-Aqsa with Israeli, Palestinian presidents in phone call
ANKARAPresident Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a phone conversation with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over a recent escalation at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
In a phone call with his Israeli counterpart, Erdoğan expressed sadness over casualties at the incident while urging that restrictions on Muslims should be removed.
President Rivlin also said the escalation was intolerable, and crossed a red line which endangered the ability of all of us to live together, according to a statement by the president's spokesperson.
He stressed that Israel was maintaining and would continue to maintain the status quo at the holy sites, adding that the steps taken on the Temple Mount were intended to ensure that such acts of terror could not be repeated, and that Israel was committed to safeguarding the lives of all the citizens who visited the holy places, the statement said.
The phone call came hours after the president also discussed the escalation with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Erdoğan stressed that it was unacceptable that there were restrictions at the entrance of the mosque, also known as Haram al-Sharif, state-run Anadolu Agency quoted anonymous presidential sources as saying.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said developments regarding the al-Aqsa mosque were disrupting and unacceptable. “We consider these developments as attempts to change the status of al-Aqsa mosque, and we are concerned about that,” he said at a press conference on July 20.
He said the preservation of the current status of the holy site is the primary right of the Palestinians based on international laws, stressing Turkey’s support for the people.
Speaking to reporters at a news conference in Ankara, Kalın urged the international community to take steps to de-escalate tensions in the compound.
Kalın called on Europe and the U.S. to “break their silence.”
Conflicts over the holy site, revered by Muslims and Jews, have repeatedly triggered Israeli-Palestinian confrontations. The site - known as the Temple Mount to Jews and Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, to Muslims - is at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Al-Aqsa mosque is the third holiest site in Islam after the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
The latest escalation began last week when three Palestinian gunmen launched an attack from there, killing two Israeli policemen at a gate to the Muslim-administered compound.
In response, Israel began installing metal detectors, a move Muslim religious leaders and Palestinian politicians allege is part of an Israeli attempt to expand control at the site.
Israel has denied such allegations, saying metal detectors are routine security devices used at holy sites around the world.