Turkish Ambassador to Israel Kemal Okem was summoned Tuesday to the foreign minister at the bequest of Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in response to the harsh anti-Israeli statements made Monday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

According to diplomatic sources, Foreign Ministry Director General Yuval Rotem conveyed the same message to the Turkish envoy in person as Israel formally issued yesterday, namely that Israel would not remain silent in the face of such rhetoric.

“Those who systematically violate human rights in their own country should not preach to the only true democracy in the region,” said the Foreign Ministry statement Monday. “Israel consistently protects total freedom of worship for Jews, Muslims and Christians – and will continue to do so despite the baseless slander launched against it.”

Erdogan, who was speaking at a conference dealing with Jerusalem in Istanbul said that “As a Muslim community, we need to visit al-Aksa Mosque often – each day that Jerusalem is under occupation is an insult to us.”

Erdogan also took issue in particular with the pending Knesset legislation referred to as the Muezzin bill. The legislation would prevent mosques in Israel from using loudspeakers outside their buildings for prayer late at night and early in the morning.


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