OIC slams Israel, decries Israeli violations against al-Aqsa mosque

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The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held an emergency meeting in the Saudi city of Jeddah yesterday to discuss Israeli violations against Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque.

In a statement released after the meeting, the OIC decried Israel's closure of the holy site and installation of metal detectors at the mosque gates.

"Israel, as an occupying force, does not have any legal authority on Jerusalem and Islamic and Christian sites [in the city]," it said.

Yesterday's meeting was held at the level of the permanent delegates of the OIC member-states. The OIC said it will hold another emergency meeting at the level of foreign ministers early in August to discuss developments in Jerusalem.

Speaking after the Cabinet meeting in Ankara yesterday, new government spokesperson Bekir Bozdağ reiterated Turkey's stance against the restriction at al-Aqsa Mosque compound by the Israeli authorities.

"The decisions made and measures taken by the Israeli authorities have caused an outcry in the Islamic world, and all others who believe in human rights. This application is an unjust and illegal application, it cannot be accepted. Israeli government has been invited to end the restrictions immediately. This [al-Aqsa] is not only belong to Palestineans, it is a common holy site for all Muslims," Bozdağ said.

The speaker of Turkey's parliament called on Islamic countries and the international community be reactive to "violations on human rights and religious liberty in Jerusalem." Ismail Kahraman, speaking amid ongoing going unrest in Jerusalem, said the use of metal detectors at an Islamic holy site in the city was "treating Muslims as if they were terrorists." "The ongoing suppression against Palestinians is false and cannot be accepted. The security policies conducted by Israel are against religious liberty and human rights," Kahraman said.Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas confirmed Sunday that his decision to freeze ties with Israel, as a protest against Israeli policies at a major Jerusalem holy site, also includes a suspension of security coordination. The official Palestinian news agency Wafa quoted Abbas as saying Sunday that "when we made these decisions, we took a firm and decisive stance, especially with regard to security coordination." Earlier, Israel's defense minister had said suspending such cooperation would mainly harm the Palestinians.

Israel took the highly unusual decision to close the Al-Aqsa mosque compound for Friday prayers, leading to anger from Muslims and Jordan, the holy site's custodian. The mosque was closed and Friday prayers canceled for the first time since Israel occupied east Jerusalem in 1967 after a gunfight inside the compound on Friday morning killed two Israeli police officers and the three alleged Palestinian attackers.

Temple Mount is central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Palestinians fearing Israel may one day seek to assert further control over it. It is located in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognized by the international community. It is considered the third holiest site in Islam and the most sacred for Jews. Jews are allowed to visit but not pray there to avoid provoking tensions.

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