Turkey: ‘Israel is an important player,’ will maintain ties despite Temple Mount clashes

Turkish president says that country will continue maintaining ties with Israel although it disagrees with the Jewish State’s arrests of rioters on the Temple Mount.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Despite rising tensions with many regional powers stemming from widespread clashes between Arab rioters and Israeli security forces on the Temple Mount, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Wednesday that his country is planning on maintaining its rapidly warming ties with Israel.

The country will “maintain its ties with Israel despite the incidents at Al-Aqsa Mosque because strong relations with Israel are key to defending Palestinian rights,” he said in a statement.

“Israel is an important player in the region that cannot be ignored.”

Erdoğan’s statement is particularly notable considering that just last year, he accused Israelis of being “blood-sucking child killers” during the Operation Guardian of the Walls clash with Gaza.

After years of frosty relations, diplomatic ties between Turkey and Israel have dramatically improved as of late.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Ankara in March, marking the first time that a senior Israeli official has visited Turkey since 2008 and the first time a president has visited since 2003.

Turkey has traditionally been a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause, playing host to Hamas and other terror groups’ senior members as well as security prisoners released in the Gilad Shalit exchange.

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On Tuesday, Erdoğan phoned Herzog to express his “concern and pain” over Israel’s large-scale arrests of Arab and Palestinian rioters on the Temple Mount.

He emphasized his hope that “in the spirit of Herzog’s important recent visit in Turkey, they may continue working together to maintain peace and calm in the region,” according to a statement from Erdoğan’s office.

“President Herzog added that we must not listen to the voices of incitement and mendacious propaganda, and that the public is looking up to the region’s leaders and expects us all to act responsibly and work for calm in these holy days for all religions in the region,” read a statement about the call released by the president’s office.