Jerusalem, July 20 (IANS) Israeli President Reuven Rivlin talked over the phone with Turkish President Recep Erdogan in a rare conversation between the two leaders over the escalating tensions around East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.
A statement released by Rivlin’s spokesperson said that the conversation was held at the request of Erdogan, who wanted to be involved in finding a solution to quell the violence at the holy site, Xinhua reported.
Israeli media reported that the talk was held despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Foreign Ministry have objected the talk.
The Ministry was concerned that such a talk would give Erdogan a leverage as an important mediator while in the past the Jewish country has accused him of inciting against Israel’s position in annexed East Jerusalem, according to Channel 2 news TV.
During the conversation, Rivlin told Erdogan that after terror attacks in Turkey, Israel was quick to condemn the acts. He said Israel expects “to hear similar condemnation from Turkey,” according to the statement.
Rivlin claimed that Israel “was maintaining and would continue to maintain the status quo at the holy sites”. He added that the controversial security measures, including new electronic detectors, were intended to ensure that attacks like Friday’s deadly shooting assault will not be repeated.
“Israel is committed to safeguarding the lives of all the citizens who visited the holy places,” Rivlin said.
Israel and Turkey renewed their full diplomatic ties in June 2016, following six years of diplomatic strife over the deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla in 2010.
Tensions around the Al-Aqsa Mosque, has been escalating since Friday attack, in which three Israeli Arabs killed two Israeli policemen. The electronic gates installed in the wake of the attack sparked daily protests in East Jerusalem, with dozens of injuries.
The Palestinians maintain that the new measures constitute a violation of the long-held status quo at the site.