(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
One day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that his government would work with the Palestinian Authority to guard against the “Judiazation” and occupation of Jerusalem, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat responded with a scathing rebuke.
Erdogan, who recently won a major victory in his consolidation of power in the Muslim country, made the comments to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdella at a Monday meeting in Istanbul.
During a two-day conference called “The International Forum on Al-Quds Wakf,” the Turkish president also called on Muslims from around the globe to visit al-Aksa mosque, on the contested Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
“As a Muslim community, we need to visit al-Aksa Mosque often – each day that Jerusalem is under occupation is an insult to us,” Erdogan said at the conference, shortly before meeting Hamdallah.
Noting that Turkey occupied Jerusalem for 400 years under the Ottoman Empire, Barkat chastised Erdogan on Tuesday for hypocrisy and spreading misinformation.
“It is surprising that Erdogan, who leads a state that occupied Jerusalem for 400 years, wants to preach to us about how to manage our city,” the mayor said.
“Unlike during the Turkish occupation, Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty is a flourishing, open and free city that allows freedom of religion and worship for all. In recent years, record numbers of Muslims have visited the Temple Mount and held prayers, exercising their absolute freedom of religion under Israeli sovereignty.”
Barkat continued: “The connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem dates back more than 3,000 years. Jerusalem is, and will remain, our eternal, united capital forever. In every corner of the city, we see Jewish roots -- from the time of the First and Second Temples, to the Muslim period, and the Ottoman conquest.”
As the capital approaches the 50th anniversary of its reunification following the Six Day War, Barkat invited Erdogan to visit “and be amazed by the reality on the ground -- a reality that has changed only for the better since the Turks ruled here.”