Worshippers cannot be equated to terrorists, says Erdogan referring to Al-Aqsa Mosque restrictions
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that Israel is headed toward isolation because of measures imposed at the Al-Aqsa compound in East Jerusalem.
"Equating the Muslims who come for worship with terrorists is a great eclipse of reason," Erdogan said at a news conference at the Esenboga International Airport after returning from a two-day visit to the Gulf region.
These steps that ignore Muslims' right to worship and ignore the holiness of Al-Aqsa increases the tension even more, he said. "Israel, with its disregard for the rule of law, not only harms itself but the whole region."
Comments by Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu's that what authorities did at Al-Aqsa compound was "right", are against freedom of religion and universal declaration of human rights, according to Erdogan.
"There is no acceptable side of Netanyahu's statements,” he said.
Anger has spilled across the West Bank since last week when Israel shut the Al-Aqsa Mosque, venerated by Muslims and Jews -- who call the site Temple Mount -- following a deadly shootout.
The mosque was reopened after two days, with Israel installing metal detectors and cameras at its gates.
Three Palestinians were killed Friday in protests against the Israeli measures around the holy site. Three Israelis were also killed in an attack in a settlement in the West Bank.
Israel refused to remove the detectors, claiming the security measures are similar to procedures taken at other holy sites around the world.
Jerusalem is sacred to Muslims, Jews and Christians, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque represents the Islamic world's third-holiest site after the cities of Mecca and Medina.
Fresh off his two-day “fructuous” Gulf visit, Erdogan believes his trip was an important step to rebuilding trust and stability in the region.
He said it is easy to destroy but always very difficult to rebuild, referring to the crisis in which a Saudi-Arabian-led bloc has attempted to isolate Qatar through a diplomatic and economic blockade, citing Doha’s support for terrorism.
Qatar denies the accusation and insists the blockade is a violation of international law.
Erdogan met Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud and said told him he has big expectations from him regarding a solution to the Gulf crisis.
He said he also met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud before going to Kuwait where he met Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah to discuss bilateral relations and the crisis.
"My last stop was Qatar and we had very fruitful talks with Sheikh Tamim [bin Hamad Al Thani]," Erdogan said.
In his meetings, the Turkish president said he did not discuss with Saudi Arabia or Kuwait the existence of a Turkish base in Qatar. The removal of which is demanded by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain as a condition to lift the blockade.