Muslim countries to hold urgent Istanbul meeting on al-Aqsa crisis
ANKARAForeign ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) will convene in Istanbul on Aug. 1 to discuss ongoing tension in east Jerusalem after Israel attempted to restrict the use of the Harem al-Sherif for Muslims, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement.
According to the statement, Turkey made the call for the extraordinary meeting as the term president of the OIC.
The OIC Executive Committee will discuss recent developments, read the statement without giving details.
The statement came on July 28, when Israel banned men under 50 from disputed Jerusalem holy site for the day in anticipation of more mass protests.
Tensions have been high at the compound for two weeks, often erupting into clashes, after two Israeli police officers were killed there, prompting Israel to install metal detectors at the entrance to the site and a subsequent Muslim boycott.
Under immense diplomatic pressure Israel removed the metal detectors on July 27, a move welcomed by the Arab world, but violence quickly returned when thousands of Muslim worshippers surged into the mosque.
Before Israel removed the new security apparatus, Palestinian factions had called for a “day of rage” on Friday.
“Security assessments were made and there are indications that disturbances and demonstrations will take place today,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
“Extra police and border police are in and around the Old City and will respond to any disturbances.”
He said women of all ages will be allowed into the site, referred to by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.
Israel captured East Jerusalem, including the Old City and the holy compound, in the 1967 Middle East war. It annexed the area in a move that has never been recognised internationally.
Al-Aqsa mosque sits on a tree-lined marble plateau in the heart of the Old City. It is also the holiest place in Judaism - the venue of two ancient temples, the last destroyed by the Romans. Jews pray under heavy security at the Western Wall at the foot of the elevated plaza.
Turkey to Israel: Read history
Ankara backed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s remarks on the al-Aqsa crisis from Israeli criticisms on July 27.
“We are proud of our history. All religions, even before the Ottoman era, carried out their worship in complete freedom” in the holy lands, presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın told private broadcaster Habertürk.
“Those who try to attack our history should read about it first,” he added.
On July 25, Erdoğan criticized the Israeli measures at al-Aqsa Mosque.
Erdoğan had urged Muslims to play their role in protecting the mosque in Jerusalem, the same day Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon blasted Erdoğan’s statements as “delusional.”
“The days of the Ottoman Empire are over. The capital of the Jewish people was, is and always will be Jerusalem. As opposed to the past, this is a city where the government is committed to its security, liberty, freedom of worship and respect for the rights of all minorities,” Nahshon said.
But Kalın responded that the issues surrounding al-Aqsa will “cause tension,” not only between Turkey and Israel, but all the surrounding countries.
“It is unrealistic for [Israel] to expect us to act as though nothing is happening there.”