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Erdoğan says Turkey concerned about illegal Israeli settlers

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed concern about Israeli settler violence against Palestinians as he welcomed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ankara on Tuesday, according to a statement from Erdoğan’s communications office.

Erdoğan and Abbas held a news conference following their meeting at the presidential palace in Ankara on Tuesday evening.

“Turkey continues to support the Palestinian cause in the strongest way possible. We are deeply concerned about the violence of illegal settlers,” Erdoğan said at the news conference.

Over the past several months, violence has reignited in the occupied West Bank where Israeli settlers have attacked Palestinian villagers, drawing international condemnation.

Clashes erupted inside Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque, where Israeli police fought with Palestinians inside the holy site.

Erdoğan accused Israel of crossing a “red line” at the time.

The president also talked about calls from some hardline Israeli Jewish settlers who demand the destruction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third most sacred place in Islam, and construction of a third Jewish temple in its place.

“We cannot tolerate any acts attempting to change the historical status quo of holy places, particularly the al-Aqsa Mosque. The unity and reconciliation of the Palestinians are key elements in this process,” Erdoğan said, adding that the only way to a just and lasting peace in the region is to support a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also travel to Turkey this week, on July 28, to have talks with Erdoğan; however, the trip was postponed after Netanhayu had unexpected surgery on Sunday.

Relations between Turkey and Israel have improved over the past year following several high-level visits, including that of Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

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