Türkiye condemns Israel’s far-right minister’s visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu held a phone conversation with the minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on Jan. 3 and discussed the latest developments in Afghanistan and the raid on Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The two ministers reiterated their condemnation of an Israeli Minister’s raid on Al-Aqsa Mosque and underlined the importance of preserving the status and sanctity of religious sites in Jerusalem and increasing coordination against such unacceptable acts.
Emphasizing the need to put the Al-Aqsa Mosque under full protection and to stop the serious and provocative violations taking place there, the ministers called on the Israeli authorities to assume their responsibilities to reduce escalation and instability in the region.
During the phone conversation, they also discussed the Taliban’s current ban on women’s access to university education and their shared concerns about their exclusion from national and international civil society and humanitarian organizations.
Çavuşoğlu reiterated Türkiye’s expectation that the said decision would be reversed and underlined the importance of coordinated efforts, particularly the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in this regard.
Al Nahyan stressed that the decision and previous bans on girls’ access to secondary education violate basic human rights. He pointed out that Islam attaches great importance to women, gives them a privileged position and protects their rights. He also stressed the need to ensure women’s rights and the importance of full and equal participation of women and girls in all aspects of life.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Jan. 3 condemned the “provocative act” by Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir after he entered Al-Aqsa Mosque’s courtyards in East Jerusalem amid warnings of unrest.
“We are concerned by the provocative act by the Israeli minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, on Al-Aqsa Mosque under the protection of the Israeli police, and we condemn it,” the ministry said in a written statement.
Ankara called on Israel to “act responsibly to prevent such provocations that will violate the status and sanctity of holy places in Jerusalem and escalate the tension in the region.”
The ultranationalist Israeli minister on Jan. 3 visited a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site for the first time since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new far-right government took office last week. The visit fueled fears of unrest as Palestinian militant groups threatened to act in response.
Netanyahu attempted to play down the incident, saying it was in line with longstanding understandings at the disputed holy site.
Ben-Gvir, a West Bank settler leader who draws inspiration from a racist rabbi, entered the site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary flanked by a large contingent of police officers. His plans to visit, announced earlier in the week, had drawn threats from Gaza’s Hamas militant group.
“The Israeli government won’t surrender to a murderous organization, to a vile terrorist organization,” Ben-Gvir, known for his anti-Arab rhetoric and provocative stunts, said in a video clip taken during the visit.
Describing the Temple Mount as “the most important place for the Jewish people,” he decried what he called “racist discrimination” against Jewish visits to the site. With the Dome of the Rock in the background and waving his fingers at the camera, he said the visits would continue.
The site is the holiest site in Judaism, home to the ancient biblical Temples. Today, it houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam. Since Israel captured the site in 1967, Jews have been allowed to visit but not pray there.
Ben-Gvir has long called for greater Jewish access to the holy site. Palestinians consider the mosque a national symbol and view such visits as provocative and as a potential precursor to Israel seizing control over the compound. Most rabbis forbid Jews from praying on the site, but there has been a growing movement in recent years of Jews who support worship there.
The site has been the scene of frequent clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces, most recently in April last year.