By Berin Alpaslan Gokce
Turkish president on Friday accused Israel of trying to deliberately wipe out traces of Islamic heritage in Jerusalem over the last 50 years.
“You [Israel] will not be able to wipe out,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at an Inter-parliamentary platform on Jerusalem in Istanbul.
You are deceiving yourself if you think you can destroy Jerusalem's spiritual identity by moving a few embassies and consulates there, Erdogan said.
Tension has been running high in the occupied Palestinian territories since last year when U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem -- now occupied by Israel -- might eventually serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Erdogan said criticizing the misconducts of Israel never means anti-Semitism, adding: “Some European countries side with the U.S. and do not raise voice against Israeli occupation policies due to shameful scenes from World War II.”
Bombing children playing ball along the coast of Gaza is a crime against humanity as bad as the Holocaust, he said.
The Turkish president said Jerusalem is not merely a cause of a handful of Muslims in Palestine, but it is “our common cause.”
Erdogan thanked “heroes” who uphold the honor of Jerusalem and humanity and protect the dignity of the Muslim Ummah against occupiers.
Palestinians must put an end to discord among themselves in order to see the outcome of their friends' efforts, the president added.
Speaking about the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Erdogan said the Washington Post columnist was “martyred in a heinous operation” at Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
Erdogan renewed his call for the extradition of Khashoggi murder suspects to stand trial in Turkey as crime was committed in Istanbul.
The Turkish nation will not be “fooled” by the culprits and knows how to “call them to account,” the president said.
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
After producing various contradictory explanations, Riyadh acknowledged he was killed inside the diplomatic building, blaming the act on a botched rendition operation.