Turkey slams 'occupation' of Jerusalem, draws Israel's ire

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey called on Turks to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque often to protect its Muslim identity and accused Israel of "massacres" against the Palestinians.

In an address delivered at the event, the Turkish president criticized Israel's ongoing occupation of East Jerusalem, calling on Muslims to visit Jerusalem to show solidarity with the occupied Palestinians.

In response to Erdogan's comments, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said on Monday that those who "systematically violate human rights in their own country should not preach to the only true democracy in the region".

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of "massacres" against the Palestinians and chided the global community for its silence.

Erdoğan had earlier said Turkey would not allow the call for morning prayers "to be silenced in Jerusalem".

"What's the difference between Israel's current practices and the racist and discriminatory policies implemented toward the blacks in America in the past, and in South Africa more recently?" he asked.

Former foreign ministry director General Dore Gold told Israel Radio that the country must respond forcefully to any "problematic statements by the Turkish leadership".

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He also sent a veiled threat to President Donald Trump, saying that moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be "extremely ill-advised".

"Here is the only solution: the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital along the lines of 1967", he said, according to Anadolu.

Israel supports the USA moving its embassy. "We will keep making efforts for Al-Quds to turn into a city of peace", Erdogan said in Istanbul, Newsweek reported.

Muslims call al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem's Old City the Noble Sanctuary, or Haram al-Sharif, and it's considered the third most important holy site for Muslims after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

Ankara and Tel Aviv "normalized" their ties past year after a dispute over the killing of Turkish activists in worldwide waters by Israeli soldiers.

The incident comes less than a year after Israel and Turkey concluded a deal to normalize diplomatic relations in the wake of a clash over a Turkish aid flotilla to Gaza in 2010.

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