Erdogan Demands Removal of Metal Detectors at Har Habayis

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan at an event earlier this week. (Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Palace/Handout via Reuters)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to remove the metal detectors installed at Har Habayis after Friday’s terror attack.

“Within the framework of freedom of religion and worship there can be no impediment for Muslims” entering the holy site, the Anadolu news agency quoted Erdogan as telling Rivlin.

“Given the importance that Haram al-Sharif carries for the whole Islamic world, the metal detectors put in place by Israel should be removed in the shortest possible time and an end put to the tension,” Erdogan said.

The statements followed a telephone conversation between Rivlin and Erdogan.

A statement released by Rivlin’s office earlier in the day did not include Erdogan’s comments.

During their conversation, Rivlin stressed that Israel was maintaining and would continue to maintain the status quo at the holy sites. He added that the steps taken at Har Habayis were intended to ensure that such acts of terror could not be repeated, and that Israel was committed to safeguarding the lives of all the citizens who visited the holy places.

Rivlin also reminded Erdogan that after the terror attack in Turkey, the state of Israel was quick to condemn those criminal acts. He said Israel expected to hear similar condemnation from Turkey, with the understanding that terror was terror wherever it took place; in Yerushalayim, in Istanbul or in Paris, the statement recorded.

It had been reported that Rivlin’s office was seeking to arrange contact with the Turkish leader. However, the statement from Rivlin’s office said that the talk came at Erdogan’s request.

According to a Channel 2 report, the Foreign Ministry advised against the initiative, on the grounds that giving Erdogan, a Hamas ally, a role in settling the crisis would work to Israel’s disadvantage.

Rivlin’s office responded by condemning alleged leaks from the Foreign Ministry, but did not deny the substance of the report.

Also on Thursday, it was reported that the Turkish leader had spoken by phone with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, when he characterized the measures imposed by Israel as “unacceptable.”

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