ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday he had told his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas he condemned “Israeli intervention on worshipers” at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and threats against his “status or his spirit”.
Erdogan’s comments come amid efforts by Turkey and Israel in recent weeks to normalize their longstanding relationship, part of a regional charm offensive launched by Ankara in 2020.
At least 152 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli riot police inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Friday, the latest in a flare-up of violence that has raised fears of a return to a larger conflict.
Most of the Palestinian injuries were caused by rubber bullets, stun grenades and beatings with police batons, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.
“During our call, I told Mr. Abbas that I strongly condemn Israel’s intervention on worshipers at Al-Aqsa Mosque and that we would oppose provocations and threats to its status or spirit. “, Erdogan said on Twitter.
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“Turkey always stands with Palestine,” he added.
Erdogan later said he had discussed developments at Al-Aqsa with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, adding that Israel’s “interventions and provocations” had had “unacceptable” results. They also discussed possible joint measures for regional peace, Erdogan added.
Turkey has in the past launched various initiatives within the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) against Israeli actions towards the Palestinians and its policies regarding Jerusalem or its status.
The Al-Aqsa compound sits atop the plateau of East Jerusalem’s Old City, 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 of the Jews under the name of Temple. To go up.
This year, tensions have been heightened in part by the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which coincides with the Jewish observance of Passover.
Regional rivals Turkey and Israel expelled ambassadors in 2018 and have often traded barbs over the Palestinian conflict, Turkish support for the militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, and other issues.
Turkey, which supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said it believed a rapprochement with Israel would also help find a solution to the problem, but that it would not abandon its commitments to the Palestinians. for better relations with Israel.
Earlier this month, Erdogan told his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog, whom he also met in Ankara last month, that Ankara expected Israeli authorities to be sensitive to Al-Aqsa during 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 reappointment of ambassadors with his Israeli counterpart during of the visit.
(Reporting by Tuvan GumrukcuEditing by Nick Macfie and Frances Kerry)
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