Erdogan says Israeli settlers major obstacle to peace

AFP , Tuesday 5 Mar 2024

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that Israeli settlers were one of the main obstacles to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mahmud Abbas with Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas (L) listens as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) speaks during a meeting in Ankara. Abbas visits Turkey for talks about the war in Gaza war and reconciliation efforts between Palestinian factions, the Turkish foreign minister said. AFP


"One of the biggest obstacles to a solution is the actions of the usurpers, called settlers, who have invaded and stolen land that belonged to Palestinians," Erdogan said during a press conference with visiting Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Erdogan, a vocal advocate of the Palestinian cause, also called for unrestrained access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, due to start this year on March 10 or 11.

"The demands of radical Israeli politicians to restrict the entry of Muslims... are absurd," he said. "The consequences of such a move would undoubtedly be serious."

"We're about to start the month of Ramadan," Abbas said. "It is well known that extremist settlers go to Al-Aqsa and carry out attacks there."

Israel said Tuesday that it would allow as many Muslim worshippers to access the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the first week of Ramadan as in previous years, and would assess the situation every week.

Every year, tens of thousands of Muslim worshippers perform Ramadan prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Ramadan comes this year as Israel wages a relentless military campaign in the Gaza Strip since October 7.

Israel's far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir had recently said that Palestinian residents of the West Bank "should not be allowed" entry to Jerusalem to pray during Ramadan.

Ben Gvir leads a hard-right party advocating Jewish control of the compound.

Days later, the United States called on Israel to allow Muslims to worship at Al-Aqsa.

Abbas is in Turkey for talks about the Gaza war and reconciliation efforts between Palestinian factions.

* This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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