Israel queries Turkey over Erdogan’s apartheid remarks

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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu
Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu demands explanation from Turkey

(dpa/NAN) The Foreign Ministry of Israel sought clarification Tuesday from Turkish Ambassador Kemal Okem over President Tayyip Erdogan’s comments comparing Israel’s Palestinian policies to apartheid.

Israeli Foreign Ministry director Yuval Rotem held a “clarification conversation” with Okem and repeated a warning that “whoever systematically violates human rights in their own country should not preach morality to the only true democracy in the region.”

Erdogan slammed Israel on Monday, comparing its policies towards Palestinians as equivalent to those implemented under the apartheid regime in South Africa.

He however called on Muslims to visit the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem to defend the site’s Islamic identity.

“Erdogan also met with the Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Monday, stressing the need to protect Jerusalem from attempts at “Judaisation,’’ Hamdallah’s office said.

Jews regard the area where the al-Aqsa Mosque is situated as the Temple Mount.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry on Monday said in a statement that Israel “protects total freedom of worship for Jews, Muslims and Christians, and will continue to do so.’’

Israel’s Army Radio reported that officials in Jerusalem have told Turkey that they are not interested in starting a crisis.

Israel and Turkey mutually posted ambassadors in 2016 after over six years of strife stemming from an Israeli naval raid on an aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip that left 10 Turkish citizens dead.

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