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    Israeli actions violating sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque ‘unacceptable:’ Turkish foreign minister

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    Israel’s actions violating the sanctity of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque or Haram al Sharif are “unacceptable,” said Türkiye’s foreign minister on Wednesday.

    “Unilateral acts by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories to perpetuate the occupation and to alter the character of … East Jerusalem continue unabated,” Hakan Fidan said at a ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital.

    NAM is a forum of 120 countries that are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. After the United Nations, it is the largest grouping of states worldwide.

    “Extremists’ provocations on the Israeli side against the status of and sanctity of Haram al Sharif are at an unacceptable level. I know that the Non-Aligned Movement is also very sensitive on this issue,” he said.

    “We must all support a force for a sovereign, independent and contiguous state of Palestine based on the lines of 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital and living side by side with Israel,” he added.

    He stressed this was the only policy to establish peace in the Middle East region.

    The world will be a safer and fairer place, if Palestine takes a dignified place in the international community as a sovereign and an equal member, he added.

    For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third-holiest site. Jews call the area the Temple Mount, saying it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

    Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move never recognized by the international community.

    Israeli forces and fanatical Jewish settlers frequently carry out raids at Al-Aqsa Mosque to provoke Palestinians, and recent years have seen the incursions grow larger and more brazen.

    ‘Türkiye working for justice through diplomacy in Ukraine war’

    Fidan stressed that Türkiye’s efforts to advocate peace in the Ukraine war is a very “telling example.”

    Türkiye has been working on achieving justice through diplomatic negotiations since the beginning of the war, he said.

    “Most importantly, with the Black Sea Grain Initiative, we brought together Ukraine, Russia and the UN and averted a global food crisis. Türkiye is committed to keeping this initiative alive, and we count on your support for it.”

    He added that Türkiye prioritizes the peaceful resolution of conflicts by actively engaging in initiatives such as peace mediation and believes that effective multilateralism is important in addressing global injustices.

    Fidan highlighted that there is a need to reform and restructure the United Nations Security Council to ensure fair representation and enhanced effectiveness.

    “Only then can it be able to address issues that matter to all humanity, not a few members of an exclusive club. That is the reason why President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan’s motto, ‘the world is bigger than five’ resonates all around the world.”

    Erdogan has frequently criticized the structure of the UN Security Council, as it is dominated by five permanent members, made up of mostly Western countries, with Islamic countries and the developing world severely underrepresented.

    ‘NAM important to advocate peaceful resolution of disputes’

    Fidan said that NAM has been “instrumental” in decolonization, disarmament and the fight against racism.

    “Today, more than 60 years after its inception, NAM maintains its relevance. It is an important platform to advocate effective multilateralism and peaceful resolution of disputes.”

    “Members of NAM make substantial contributions to the debate on how to achieve a better global order. This includes the reform of the UN, improving global health architectures, countering terrorism and achieving the sustainable development goals.”

    He added that Azerbaijan has assumed the chairmanship of the bloc, which is a challenging responsibility considering the group’s extensive membership, coupled with the global pandemic and numerous ongoing armed conflicts.

    ‘Especially attacks on Islam has almost become epidemic in Europe’

    Fidan said that Türkiye actively promotes the strengthening of effective multilateralism through various initiatives aimed at addressing global challenges, including the zero waste project, which focuses on preserving the planet.

    “This year the project initiated by the first lady, her excellency Emine Erdogan, evolved UN policy thanks to the support of your nations.”

    He added that 2023 is the centennial of the Turkish Republic and the Turkish War of Independence has been an inspiration to many countries.

    “Now, under the leadership of President Erdogan, we are stepping into the second century of the Turkish Republic.”

    “In this new era, we will be actively addressing global problems, ranging from terrorism and armed conflicts to racism and climate change. Not everyone acts the same way. When faced with problems of great magnitude, some prefer turning a blind eye to road causes and choose blaming others.”

    Highlighting that hatred targeting Muslims, people of African and Asian origins, Jews and immigrants has reached unprecedented levels, Fidan added: “Especially attacks on Islam has almost become an epidemic in Europe.”

    Referring to last week’s burning of a copy of the Quran in front of a mosque in Stockholm, Sweden, which drew widespread outrage, Fidan said: “Burning the Quran, on the very first day of Eid al-Adha and allowing it to happen under the disguise of freedom of expression is a blatant insult to billions [of people]. However, this rather grim picture should not discourage us.”

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