Israel Responds to Erdogan: Temple Mount Statements 'Unfounded and Distorted'

The Turkish president claimed Israel was trying to take the Al-Aqsa Mosque from Muslims under the guise of efforts to fight terrorism

Turkey's President and the leader of ruling Justice and Development Party Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, July 25, 2017.

Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon responded to an accusation made by Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan against Israel Sunday, calling his statement "wacky, unfounded and distorted."

Speaking at an AKP party meeting in the Turkish parliament Erdogan claimed Israel was trying to take the Al-Aqsa Mosque from Muslims under the guise of efforts to fight terrorism.

"Turkish President Erdogan statements to his party's activists are wacky, unfounded and distorted. It would be better for him to deal with the problems and difficulties of his country," Nahshon said. "The days of the Ottoman Empire are long gone. The capital of the Jewish people had been, is and will be Jerusalem. Unlike in past years, it is a city whose government is committed to security, liberty, religious freedom and respect for the rights of all minorities. He who lives in a glass house shouldn't throw stones."     

The Prime Minister's Office issued a statement saying: "It is interesting what Erdogan would say to the residents of Northern Cyprus or the Kurds. Erdogan is the last person who can preach to Israel."

"Everyone who knows Israel is aware that restrictions on Al-Aqsa mosque are not due to safety concerns," Erdogan said during the meeting.

Erdogan called on the world's Muslims to take an active part of the defense of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. "When Israeli soldiers carelessly pollute the grounds of Al-Aqsa with their combat boots by using simple issues as a pretext and then easily spill blood there, the reason [they are able to do that] is we [Muslims] have not done enough to stake our claim over Jerusalem."

On Saturday, Erdogan condemned Israel over the crisis and what he described as excessive use of force against Muslim worshippers. "Closing Temple Mount for days and imposing restrictions on Muslims is unacceptable," Erdogan said. "I call on the international community to intervene."

President Reuven Rivlin and Erdogan discussed the Temple Mount crisis in a phone call on Thursday. The Israeli President's Residence said that the call took place at Erdogan's request. A senior Israeli official said that the Foreign Ministry opposed to the call taking place, and even passed on a negative assessment of it earlier in the day.

The President's Residence said that during their conversation, Rivlin clarified to his Turkish counterpart that "the terror attack that occurred last Friday at the Temple Mount, a sacred site for all of us, is an unacceptable crossing of a red line that jeopardizes our ability to live together."