Erdogan urges Muslims to ‘act against Judaization of Jerusalem’

Erdogan urges Muslims to ‘act against Judaization of Jerusalem’

Turkish president vows to prevent changes to status quo in Jerusalem, urges Palestinians to visit Temple Mount en masse • Israel: We protect freedom of worship for all religions, Turkey should not preach morality to the only democracy in the region.Shlomo Cesana, Eli Leon, Associated Press and Israel Hayom Staff

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan | Photo credit: Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Tuesday with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Istanbul and said Muslims should “join forces and act against the Judaization of Jerusalem.”

Acting on orders from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador in Israel for clarifications.

“It is imperative we join forces to protect Jerusalem from Israel’s Judaization attempts. I call on all Muslims to visit en masse the occupied Al-Aqsa mosque in east Jerusalem, which is routinely raided by settlers and Israeli security forces,” Erdogan said. He added that Turkey “is paying special attention to Jerusalem and the Palestinian fight for justice. We will double our efforts to turn Jerusalem into a city of security, independence and peace.”

Hamdallah also slammed Israel’s conduct in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, and accused the international community of remaining silent.

“The continued silence of the international community in light of what is happening in Palestine in general, and in particular in Jerusalem, fuels and bolsters Israel’s actions. This has turned the conflict into a religious one and it will have consequences. … For the past 69 years, Israel has continued its oppression and racism, and in all these years it has not been held responsible or accountable for its actions. This emboldens it to continue to violate international law and human rights,” he said.

According to the Palestinian Maan news agency, Erdogan told Hamdallah he believes that “it would be hard to reach regional peace without first finding a fair solution to the Palestinian issue. … The only solution is to form a Palestinian state within the 1967 border and this requires putting more pressure on Israel.”

Erdogan’s statement on Tuesday followed his call the previous day to Muslims to stand up for the Palestinian cause.

Speaking Monday at the plenary session of the International Forum on Al-Quds Waqf in Istanbul, which according to its website aims to promote Palestinian economic development, Erdogan said that Turkey will not allow Israel to change the status quo at the holy site, and that each day Jerusalem remains under “Israeli occupation” is “an insult to Muslims.”

Turkey’s Daily Sabah newspaper said Erdogan had lambasted the international community over its “silence,” saying, “They [Israel] feel that are immune from any punishment for their crimes, but the international community must stand up against them. It is difficult to establish peace in the region if international law remains indifferent to massacres and brutality.”

The Turkish president also slammed the controversial mosque loudspeaker bill, which aims to reduce the noise levels of the mosque loudspeakers used to call worshippers to prayer, saying the proposed legislation infringes on religious freedom.

According to the Daily Sabah, Erdogan vowed to “give a decisive answer to anyone who thinks he can prevent the sound of the muezzin from being heard in Al-Aqsa mosque and in Jerusalem as a whole.”

He further compared Israeli actions against Palestinians to those of South Africa under apartheid and said the United States must drop plans to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

While the Trump administration has repeatedly said moving the embassy was under “serious consideration,” no final decision on the matter has been made.

The statements were Erdogan’s harshest against Israel since the two countries restored diplomatic ties to the ambassadorial level in 2016.

Erdogan’s words drew strong criticism from Israel.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nashon accused Erdogan of “systematically” violating human rights and said he “should not preach morality to the only true democracy in the region.”

“Israel consistently protects total freedom of worship for Jews, Muslims and Christians and it will continue to do so despite this baseless slander,” he said.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said, “Erdogan’s remarks are baseless and have no hold in reality. Unfortunately, his statements about the Temple Mount and Jerusalem are inflammatory, and only undermine the security of Jerusalem’s residents and visitors.”

Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon tweeted, “Erdogan, who aspires for Muslim Brotherhood hegemony in the Middle East, is working toward Islamizing Europe. These [statements] surprised only those who ignore the facts.”

Referring to the reconciliation deal between Israel and Turkey, Zionist Union MK Erel Margalit said, “Any deal based on dwarfing Israel against another state only opens the door to further humiliation.”