Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has again framed the issue of sovereignty and control of Jerusalem as a religious issue, for which a religious battle must be waged.
“No force or threat can dissuade our country from its activities to protect and defend the rights of Palestine and Jerusalem,” Erdogan said at a meeting with Turkish and Islamic organizations in New York on the sidelines of the annual United Nations’ General Assembly.
Erdogan emphasized that the issue of Jerusalem is not just about Muslims at the Temple Mount, but about “touching the dignity of 1.7 billion Muslims in the world.”
Erdogan has previously called on Muslims to march on Jerusalem.
In November 2016, he urged “all Muslims” to defend Jerusalem from Israel and stand for the Palestinian cause.
“It is the common duty of all Muslims to embrace the Palestinian cause and protect Jerusalem,” he declared.
In May 2017, Erdogan accused Israel of “racist and discriminatory” policies against Arabs and discussed the need to “protect Jerusalem against attempts of Judaization.”
Responding to the allegations, President Reuven Rivlin noted that the Jewish majority in Israel’s capital dates to the Ottoman period.
“We have heard voices which attack Israel for building Jewish life in Jerusalem. I must tell these people, for the last 150 years there has been a Jewish majority in Jerusalem. Even under the Ottoman Empire, there was a Jewish majority in Jerusalem,” he pointed out.
Rivlin added that “under Israeli sovereignty, we continue to build Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people. There is no doubt Jerusalem is a microcosm of our ability to live together. And we will continue to ensure freedom of religion for all faiths.”