Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed concern about Israeli settler violence against Palestinians in a meeting with his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas.
“As Turkey, we continue to support the Palestinian cause in the strongest way possible. We are deeply concerned about the violence of illegal settlers,” Erdogan said after the meeting in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Tuesday.
Keep readinglist of 4 items
Violence has rocked the occupied West Bank in recent months as Israeli forces ramp up their raids. Ensuing clashes have resulted in Israeli settlers scaling attacks on Palestinian villages.
Erdogan also addressed the issue of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, where some hardline Israeli Jewish settlers are promoting its destruction and the 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,” the Turkish leader said.
The only way to a just and lasting peace in the region is to support a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, Erdogan added.
Erdogan later held a behind closed doors meeting with Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.
Hamas defeated Abbas’ Fatah and took control of the blockaded Gaza Strip in 2007, and the two parties have been unable to repair the rift since, with Fatah dominant in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also set to visit Turkey later this week, but the trip was postponed after he had unscheduled surgery on Sunday.
Frustration at PA amid West Bank raids
Abbas’s visit comes as Palestinians grow increasingly frustrated with the body that exercises control over some parts of the West Bank.
The PA was criticised by Palestinians after the biggest Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp in nearly 20 years earlier this month.
His senior officials were driven away from a funeral procession by large crowds angry at the PA’s response to the attack.
During the Jenin raid, nearly 3,000 people fled their homes while dozens of houses were shelled. The attack caused widespread destruction to roads and other infrastructure.
For the past two years, Israeli forces have conducted multiple deadly raids on the camp as well as other areas in the occupied territory while settler attacks have increased.