Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference in Ankara.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Saturday that Israel was "playing with fire" by engaging in behavior on the Temple Mount that amounted to "subversiveness and treachery."
In an interview with the pan-Arab satellite network Al-Jazeera, Erdogan said that "the struggle over the mosque doesn't belong just to Muslims but also to Christians."
"So Israel must understand that what it is doing is a crime as it relates to human rights, which is compounded by the hundreds of crimes it has committed against the Palestinian people," the Turkish leader said. Israeli security forces and Palestinian rioters have clashed on Temple Mount in recent weeks.
The government has accused the Palestinians of fanning the flames and inciting young Palestinians to cause trouble at al-Aksa mosque, while Jordan - which views itself as the custodian of the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem
- has accused Israel of conducting unnecessary raids
"What is taking place at al-Aksa mosque is a crime against the entire Islamic world," Erdogan said. "It's not just limited to the Palestinian question. So Israel needs to take a different approach. It's playing with fire, and it will pay a price in different places and in different ways, because people's thresholds are limited."
The Turkish leader, who has been at the forefront of anti-Israel rhetoric in recent years
, said that he has held numerous conversations on the issue with Saudi King Salman, "who has taken an interest in the matter." Erdogan said he has also been in touch with the king of Jordan and the emir of Qatar.
"We all agreed that we needed to do what was possible about this issue," Erdogan said.