Turkey urges international community action to end restrictions at Al-Aqsa

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Palestinian Muslim clerics speak with Israeli border guards outside the Lions Gate, a main entrance to Al-Aqsa mosque compound, in Jerusalem's Old City on July 21, 2017, after Israel barred men under 50 from entering the Old City for Friday prayers. The measure came after Israeli ministers decided not to order the removal of metal detectors erected at entrances to the Al-Aqsa mosque (Haram al-Sharif mosque) compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, following an attack nearby a week ago that killed two policemen. / AFP PHOTO / Jack GUEZ

Turkish authorities on Saturday urged the international community to act to end practices by the Israeli government restricting Palestinians’ ability to worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

In a statement on Saturday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said: “As the summit term president of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC], I condemn Israeli forces’ use of excess force on our brothers gathered for Friday prayer.”

Calling on the international community to immediately act to end practices that restrict freedom of worship, Erdoğan said the Friday prayer was not being allowed at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Erdoğan also called on Israel to respect the holiness and historic status of the Al-Aqsa compound, underlining that this is its legal obligation.

The statement also said Erdoğan and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, discussed the al-Aqsa crisis with by phone and that the two leaders agreed to work together to resolve the problem and ensure calm after the restrictions and loss of Palestinian lives in Jerusalem caused tensions.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Ministry sources told the Hürriyet daily that Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and his Palestinian counterpart, Riyad al-Malki, held a phone conversation on Friday about the recent tension in Jerusalem.

Çavuşoğlu also discussed the issue with other foreign ministers, including Jordan’s Ayman Al Safadi, Pakistan’s Sartaj Aziz and Uzbekistan’s Abdulaziz Kamilov, Hürriyet said.

After Israeli authorities canceled weekly Friday prayers last week for the first time in nearly five decades, three Palestinians and two Israeli policemen died in a shootout.

During the violence caused by Israeli restrictions on Palestinians in Jerusalem, three Israelis were also stabbed to death in a West Bank settlement, with hundreds of others wounded.

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