By Mucahit Turetken
ISTANBUL (AA) – Palestinian Minister of Endowments and Religious Affairs Yousef Ideis has hailed Turkish visits to Jeruslam’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque as a “victory” for the Palestinian people.
"Jerusalem is and will always be the eternal capital of Palestine,” Ideis told Anandolu Agency in exclusive statement following a conference on “Jerusalem: The City Blessed by Revelation”, organized by Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate on Monday.
Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem -- occupied by Israel since 1967 -- might eventually serve as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.
Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump sparked world outcry by recognizing the holy city as the capital of Israel.
Ideis said the U.S. decision has triggered mass protests in the Palestinian territories, in which several people were martyred.
“The international community stresses that the city is ours,” he said. “We need each and every Muslim community to stand by our side for the sake of this city.”
The Palestinian minister called on Muslim countries to come together to reverse the U.S. decision on Jerusalem.
“I would like to thank the Turkish people and government for their efforts to defend Jerusalem,” he said.
Ideis said that Israel was not happy with the increasing number of visits from Turkey to the Palestinian territories.
"Turkish visitors to Jerusalem go through the same problems we (Palestinians) face because of the Israeli occupation,” he said. “Israel doesn't want any Muslim to visit Al-Aqsa Mosque. If Muslims give up on the holy city, it will be easy for Israel to occupy it.”
“Visits by Turks to the holy sites in Jerusalem are a victory for us,” Ideis said, going on to call on people in the Arab countries to come to visit the holy city.