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Turkey condemns Israel's statements over Al-Aqsa

TURKEY CONDEMNS ISRAELS STATEMENTS OVER AL-AQSA

Turkey's Foreign Ministry spokesman on Wednesday strongly condemned Israeli Foreign Ministry's recent statements over Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's remarks on Al-Aqsa Mosque.

In a written statement, Hüseyin Müftüoğlu condemned his Israeli counterpart Emmanuel Nahshon's "presumptuous" response to Erdoğan in which he said the president's words were "delusional" and "distorted".

"During Ottoman-era Palestine, people who were members of different religions and sects managed to live in peace for hundreds of years and practice their religion freely," Müftüoğlu said. "In this context, it is the Jewish people who should best know and appreciate the unparalleled tolerance which was displayed during the Ottoman era."

The spokesman said that what Israel should "immediately" do is to "return to the status quo at Al-Aqsa" and "completely remove all obstacles to freedom of worship".

On Tuesday, President Erdoğan criticized the Israeli government over its implementations on Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is sacred to Muslims and represents the Islamic world's third-holiest site after the cities of Mecca and Medina.

Erdoğan urged Muslims to play their role in protecting the mosque in Jerusalem.

"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 Al-Quds [Jerusalem]," Erdoğan said.

Nahshon responded to Erdoğan's statements the same day, calling the president's remarks "delusional" and "distorted".

"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 respect the rights of all minorities."

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.

Israel's security cabinet decided late Monday to remove the metal detectors. A statement released after the meeting said 100 million Israeli shekels would be allocated for a new surveillance system using "smart checks" based on advanced technology.

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