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Turkey, Israel clash over Jerusalem

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Tensions have resurfaced between Turkey and Israel, with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticising the “racist and discriminatory” treatment of Palestinians.

Israel responded by summoning the Turkish ambassador and condemning Ankara’s human rights record.

Erdoğan, Turkey’s president, denounced Israeli practices during an address in Istanbul on Monday night, describing the blockade of Gaza as having “no place in humanity”.

He urged Muslims to visit the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem as a means of supporting the Palestinian cause and called for the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem.

Erdoğan also condemned a Knesset (Israeli parliament) bill to muffle the azan, the Muslim call to prayer, in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem.

“If you have faith in your religion, why are you afraid of the azan?” he said. “We will not allow the azan to be stopped in al-Quds [the Arabic name for Jerusalem].”

The Israeli foreign ministry responded with an apparent reference to Ankara’s crackdown on dissidents after a coup attempt last July.

The Israeli president, Reuven Rivlin, during a meeting with the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in Jerusalem, said in response to Erdoğan’s remarks: “We have heard voices which attack Israel for building Jewish life in Jerusalem.

I must tell these people, for the last 150 years there has been a Jewish majority in Jerusalem, since 1850. Even under the Ottoman empire, there was a Jewish majority in Jerusalem.

“There is no doubt, Jerusalem is a microcosm of our ability to live together. And we will continue to ensure freedom of religion for all faiths.”

NAN

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