Turkey says Israel is on dangerous path in row over al-Aqsa mosque
AA photoTurkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reiterated his criticism against Israel’s moves to restrict the use of holy sites in Jerusalem to Muslims, stressing the path chosen by the Israeli government is dangerous and will lead to isolation.
“It means that Israel, disrespecting the holiness of the Haram al-Sharif for all three religions in Jerusalem that hosts al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, is turning to a dangerous path where it will face the largest damages,” Erdoğan told ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers in parliament on July 25.
Israel is in fact in efforts to establish a de facto occupation in the al-Aqsa mosque by restricting Muslims to use the holy site, Erdoğan said, describing the Israeli government’s move as “the final straw.”
“For us, for Muslims, protecting our holy sites is not a matter of opportunity but of faith. If Israel is taking such steps relying on the weapons it has or on the powers behind it, it means it is making a mistake,” he stressed.
Erdoğan said he had phone conversations with Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian and French leaders as well as the leaders of Arab countries, expressing his wishes for a speedy resolution to the problem. He also said the removal of metal security detectors from al-Aqsa was a positive move with hopes that further moves will be taken.
‘All Muslims should visit Jerusalem’
A reason why Israel feels free to make moves toward Islamic religious sites is because Muslims in the world did not pay sufficient interest in protecting them, Erdoğan said, calling on all Muslims to visit Jerusalem and the holy sites.
In his earlier remarks late July 24, Erdoğan said Israel was heading toward isolation because of measures imposed on the al-Aqsa compound.
“Likening the Muslims who come for worship to terrorists is a great eclipse of reason,” Erdoğan said in a news conference at Ankara’s Esenboğa Airport after returning from a two-day visit to the Gulf region.
These measures ignore Muslims’ right to worship and disregard the holiness of al-Aqsa, causing tensions to increase further, he said.
“Israel, with its disregard for the rule of law, not only harms itself but the whole region. Israel is heading in the wrong direction with the steps it has taken and I am saying very clearly that it is heading toward isolation,” Erdoğan said.
He added that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments justifying the authorities’ measures at the al-Aqsa compound are against freedom of religion and the universal declaration of human rights.
“There is no acceptable side to Netanyahu’s statements,” he said.
CHP critisizes restrictions of Israel
Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said, in an address to his party deputies in parliament on July 25, that it is a common duty to respect everyone’s belief.
“It is not right to upset our citizens in Turkey due to an event happening elsewhere,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu also said it was “unacceptable” for the Israeli government to ban Palestinians’ entry to al-Aqsa mosque.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) also criticized the attack on the synagogue.
“The attack on Neve Shalom synagogue, which is a place of worship for our Jewish citizens who have been this country’s fellow nationals for many centuries, cannot be an answer to Israel’s terror policies,” HDP deputy parliamentary group chair Ahmet Yıldırım said on July 24.
“An attack on a house of worship cannot be stopped by an attack on another house of worship,” he added.
Their comments came after the Alperen Hearths, an ultranationalist youth organization linked to the right-wing nationalist Great Union Party (BBP), stoned the Neve Shalom synagogue last week to protest Israel’s recent security measures.
Anger has spilled across the West Bank since last week when Israel closed al-Aqsa, venerated by Muslims and Jews—who call the site Temple Mount—following a deadly shootout.
The mosque was reopened after two days, with Israel installing metal detectors and cameras at its gates.
Three Palestinians were killed July 21 in protests against Israeli measures around the holy site. Three Israelis were also killed in an attack in a settlement in the West Bank.
Israel refused to remove the metal detectors, claiming the security measures are similar to procedures taken at other holy sites around the world.
Jerusalem is sacred to Muslims, Jews and Christians and the al-Aqsa mosque represents the Islamic world’s third-holiest site after the cities of Mecca and Medina.