Erdogan Condemns Israel for Al-Aqsa 'Intervention' in Call With President Abbas

Turkey's Erdogan, whose support for Hamas has strained Israel ties, thanked the Palestinian president for his leadership as tensions in Jerusalem simmer, calling for 'all Palestinian groups to work together'

Reuters
Haaretz
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, Turkey, March 14, 2022.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, Turkey, March 14, 2022.Credit: AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici
Reuters
Haaretz

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday he had told his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas that he condemned Israeli "intervention on worshipers" at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque and threats to its "status or spirit".

Erdogan's comments come amid efforts by Turkey and Israel in recent weeks to normalize their long-strained ties, as part of a regional charm offensive launched by Ankara in 2020.

On Friday, at least 152 Palestinians were wounded in clashes with Israeli riot police inside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the latest outbreak in an upsurge of violence that has raised fears of a slide back to wider conflict.

Most of the Palestinian injuries were incurred from rubber bullets, stun grenades and beatings with police batons, the Palestine Red Crescent said.

"During our call, I told Mr Abbas that I strongly condemned Israel's intervention on worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque and that we will stand against provocations and threats to its status or spirit," Erdogan said on Twitter.

"Turkey always stands with Palestine," he added.

A Palestinian protester waves the Palestinian flag during clashes with Israeli security forces at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City Friday, April 15, 2022.Credit: AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean

The Al-Aqsa compound sits atop the Old City plateau of East Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, and is known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif, or The Noble Sanctuary, and to Jews as Temple Mount.

Tensions this year have been heightened in part by Ramadan coinciding with the Jewish celebration of Passover.

Regional rivals Turkey and Israel expelled ambassadors in 2018 and have often traded barbs over the Palestinian conflict, Turkish support of Hamas, which runs Gaza, and other issues.

Erdogan said he thanked Abbas for his leadership through this crisis, calling for "all Palestinian groups to work together" and achieve Palestinian unity, possibly signalling a shift away from backing Hamas, at least publicly.

Erdogan later said he had discussed developments at Al-Aqsa with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, adding he Israel's "interventions and provocations" had "unacceptable" results.

They also discussed possible joint steps for regional peace, Erdogan added. Turkey has in the past launched various initiatives within the United Nations and Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) against Israeli actions towards Palestinians and its policies regarding Jerusalem or its status.

Turkey, which supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has said it believes a rapprochement with Israel will also help find a solution to the issue, but that it would not abandon commitments to Palestinians for better ties with Israel.

Earlier this month, Erdogan had told his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog, whom he also met in Ankara last month, that Ankara expected Israeli authorities to be sensitive over Al-Aqsa during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and stressed the importance of allowing Palestinians to enter Israel.

Last month, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he would visit Israel and Palestine with Energy Minister Fatih Donmez in mid-May and discuss the re-appointment of ambassadors with his Israeli counterpart during the visit.

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