Israel Rebukes Turkish Envoy Over Erdogan Call for Muslims to Swarm Temple Mount

TEL AVIV – Israel on Tuesday rebuked Turkey’s ambassador to protest his president’s call the day before urging Muslims all over the world to flock to the Temple Mount in order to “protect” it from “Judaization.” 

At the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Ministry Director- General Yuval Rotem spoke with Ambassador Kemal Okem in what the ministry termed was a “clarification conversation.”

A statement released by the Foreign Ministry following Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s verbal attack against Israel called the president out for hypocrisy.

“Those who systematically violate human rights in their own country should not preach to the only true democracy in the region,” Monday’s statement read. “Israel consistently protects total freedom of worship for Jews, Muslims and Christians — and will continue to do so despite the baseless slander launched against it.”

Earlier in the day, during the International Forum on al-Quds Waqf in Istanbul, Erdogan accused Israel of being “racist” and “discriminatory” and urged Muslims to visit the Temple Mount in “Occupied Jerusalem” as a show of support for the Palestinians.

“We, as Muslims, should be visiting Al-Quds more often,” he said, referring to Jerusalem by its Arabic name.

“As a Muslim community, we need to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque often, each day that Jerusalem is under occupation is an insult to us,” he added.
Erdogan also said Israel needs to be “held accountable for its crimes” and keeps on “getting away from punishment.”
He also sent a veiled threat to President Donald Trump, saying that moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be “extremely ill-advised.”
Also on Monday, Erdogan met with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to work on “unifying efforts to protect Jerusalem against attempts of Judaization,” the independent Palestinian Maan news agency reported.
Following the meeting between the two, the Palestinian Ambassador to Turkey, Faid Mustafa, announced on the PA’s official radio station Voice of Palestine that Ankara had decided to transfer $10 million to the PA.
Erdogan’s speech threatens the recently signed rapprochement deal between Israel and Turkey following a six-year rift in diplomatic relations.

Israeli minister-without-portfolio Ayoub Kara expressed his hope that the incident would be forgotten soon.

“Israel and Turkey don’t want this spark to turn into a fire. In my talks with Turkish officials, relations are returning to normal in the common interest of both countries,” he said.

However, other Israeli politicians were quick to berate Erdogan.

President Reuven Rivlin said: “We have heard voices which attack Israel for building Jewish life in Jerusalem. I must tell these people: For the last 150 years there has been a Jewish majority in Jerusalem. Even under the Ottoman Empire there was a Jewish majority in Jerusalem. Under Israeli sovereignty we continue to build Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people.”’
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said “as long as Erdogan is Turkey’s leader, ties will not go back to what they were.”
Ex-defense minister Moshe Ya’alon said, “Erdogan aspires for there to be a Muslim Brotherhood hegemony in the Middle East and is working toward an Islamic Europe. This should be surprising only to those who ignore the facts.”
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat noted Turkey’s rule over Jerusalem for 400 years under the Ottoman Empire.
“It is surprising that Erdogan, who leads a state that occupied Jerusalem for 400 years, wants to preach to us about how to manage our city,” the mayor said.

“Unlike during the Turkish occupation, Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty is a flourishing, open and free city that allows freedom of religion and worship for all. In recent years, record numbers of Muslims have visited the Temple Mount and held prayers, exercising their absolute freedom of religion under Israeli sovereignty.”

Barkat continued: “The connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem dates back more than 3,000 years. Jerusalem is, and will remain, our eternal, united capital forever. In every corner of the city, we see Jewish roots – from the time of the First and Second Temples to the Muslim period and the Ottoman conquest.”

Ahead of Jerusalem Day later this month marking the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem in the Six Day War, Barkat invited Erdogan to visit “and be amazed by the reality on the ground – a reality that has changed only for the better since the Turks ruled here.”

In 1949, Turkey became the first Muslim country to recognize Israel. The countries enjoyed strong diplomatic ties during the 1990s, but the relationship soured after Erdogan became prime minister in 2003.


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