Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged all Muslims to defend the Palestinian cause and said it is their obligation to protect Jerusalem.
Speaking in Istanbul, at a parliamentary symposium on Jerusalem, Erdogan said “it is the common duty of all Muslims to embrace the Palestinian cause and protect Jerusalem” and that safeguarding the Al-Aqsa Mosque should not be left to children, armed with nothing but stones.
He also condemned a proposed Israeli bill on Tuesday that limits “noise levels” at places of worship in Jerusalem, a plan seen as an attempt to silence the Muslim call to prayer.
Erdogan criticised the bill as “irrational” and “conscienceless”.
Highlighting “policies of repression and discrimination against our Palestinian brothers”, Turkey’s president also said safeguarding the Al-Aqsa Mosque should not be left to children, armed with nothing but stones.
Last month, UNESCO passed a resolution condemning Israel for restricting Muslim access to the mosque.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the Six-Day War in 1967 and annexed it in 1980, a move never recognised by the international community.
Erdogan also underscored the need for the “two-state solution” involving Palestine and Israel within pre-1967 borders.
“The only way for permanent peace in the Middle East is a free and independent Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem,” said Erdogan.
He added: “It is not possible to provide peace in the region without bandaging this wound in the Middle East.”
The president’s comments are unlikely to go down well with the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel and Turkey just restored broken relations after six years, which were severed after an Israeli commando raid killed Turkish activists on a flotilla seeking to deliver much-needed aid to besieged Gaza.