Istanbul to Host Meeting of Ministers on Al-Aqsa Crisis
Foreign ministers from Islamic countries will meet in Istanbul on August 1st to discuss the situation at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the Foreign Ministry announced on Friday, quoted by Daily Sabah.
Members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will hold an extraordinary meeting following a call from Ankara.
Meanwhile, Presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın defended President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's remarks on the Al-Aqsa crisis against Israeli criticism Thursday.
Kalın said that the Turkish nation was proud of its history, adding that all religions, even before the Ottoman era, enjoyed "complete freedom" of worship in the holy lands.
"Those who try to attack our history should study it first," Kalın told news channel Habertürk.
On Tuesday, Erdoğan criticized the new Israeli security measures at Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is sacred to Muslims and is the Islamic world's third-holiest site. He urged Muslims to play their part in protecting the sacred mosque in Jerusalem.
The same day, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon blasted Erdoğan's statements as "delusional."
"The days of the Ottoman Empire are over," Nahshon said. "The capital of the Jewish people was, is, and always will be Jerusalem. As opposed to the past, this is a city where the government is committed to its security, liberty, freedom of worship and respects the rights of all minorities."
Kalın responded by saying that the issues surrounding Al-Aqsa would "cause tension" between not only Turkey and Israel, but also between all the countries in the region. "[Israel] expecting us to act as though nothing is going on there is unrealistic."
Kalın added that Ankara is worried that Israel is planning to change the current status of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
"The Palestinian people, Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem are not alone. If current policies continue, Israel will face the entire Muslim world," he warned.
Anger has spilled across the West Bank since July 14 when Israel imposed security restrictions on Al-Aqsa, a site that is venerated by Muslims and Jews, following the deaths of two Israeli police officers and three Arab Israelis in an attack.
The measures, which included metal detectors, have since been removed.
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