JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli President Reuven Rivlin spoke with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey by phone at the Turkish president’s request despite objections from Israel’s Foreign Ministry.
The call took place a week after a terror attack at the Temple Mount by three Arab Israelis left two Druze Israel Police officers dead and led to the installation of metal detectors at the holy site, sparking tensions and riots in eastern Jerusalem.
Rivlin told Erdogan the attack was “intolerable, and crossed a red line which endangered the ability of all of us to live together,” according to a readout from the President’s Office.
He also reminded Erdogan that following a terror attack in Turkey, the State of Israel was quick to condemn those criminal acts. Rivlin said Israel expected to hear similar condemnation from Turkey, with the understanding that terror was terror wherever it took place – in Jerusalem, in Istanbul or in Paris.
Rivlin stressed that Israel was maintaining and would continue to maintain the status quo at the holy sites, according to the President’s Office.
Erdogan told Rivlin that Muslims should be able to enter the Al-Aqsa mosque without restrictions within the framework of freedom of religion and worship, the Turkish Anadolu news agency reported.
Erdogan also spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, telling him “The protection of the Islamic character and sanctity of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and Al-Haram al-Sharif (Al-Aqsa mosque complex) is important for the whole Muslim world,” Anadolu reported.
Erdogan’s office contacted Rivlin’s office Wednesday night to arrange the phone call. The Foreign Ministry in its objection said it would give Erdogan a role in the Temple Mount issue, Haaretz reported.
Rivlin decided to go forward with the call, saying it was important to answer requests for dialogue from the region’s leaders, The Times of Israel reported.