Erdogan: Israel's Removal of Temple Mount Metal Detectors Is Good, but Insufficient

Turkey's president says Israel has offended the Muslim world and is benefiting from the weakness of Muslims

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, July 25, 2017.
/AP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that while Israel had made the right decision to remove the metal detectors from the entrances of Jerusalem's Temple Mount, the measure was insufficient.

Speaking at a conference in Ankara, Erdogan said Israel had offended the Muslim world by installing the metal detectors and that it was benefiting from the weakness of Muslims.

Erdogan added that Israel has been carrying out illegal activities in Jerusalem.

"We refuse to be silent about the situation at Al-Aqsa Mosque," Erdogan said.

Erdogan's remarks came a day after Israel's Foreign Ministry blasted him for claiming Israel was trying to take the Al-Aqsa Mosque from Muslims under the guise of efforts to fight terrorism.

"Turkish President Erdogan's 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," ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said.

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 last Thursday. The Israeli President's Residence said the call took place at Erdogan's request. A senior Israeli official said the Foreign Ministry was opposed to the call taking place, and even passed on a negative assessment of it earlier in the day.

The crisis over the compound started after Israeli forces installed metal detectors at the entrances to the site as a security measure following an attack in which three Israeli Arabs shot dead two Israeli policemen.

As an act of civil protest, Palestinian worshippers refused to step through the metal detectors, and over the course of the following week held their prayers outside the Al-Aqsa compound instead. The government resisted the pressure and clashes erupted between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces, with tensions echoing throughout the Arab world.

On Monday night, however, Israel's security cabinet decided to remove the metal detectors and replace them with a new security system.