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.
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.
“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.”