Erdogan says US debates over Jerusalem embassy move 'wrong'
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said debates over the possibility of moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem are "extremely wrong" and should be dropped.
Speaking at the International Jerusalem Foundations Forum in Istanbul, Erdogan said everyone should be careful on issues that concerned the status of Jerusalem, warning that even "relocating a stone" in the city could have serious implications.
"The debates over the possibility of US moving its Israel embassy to Jerusalem are extremely wrong and should certainly drop from the agenda," the Turkish president said.
US President Donald Trump had promised during his campaign to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, whose status is one of the thorniest issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community. In 1980, Israel declared "reunited" Jerusalem its capital.
Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu supports the US moving its embassy.
Commenting on Erdogan's remarks, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said: "Whoever systematically violates human rights in their own country should not preach morality to the only true democracy in the region".
Also on Monday, the Turkish president vowed to prevent a draft bill being advanced in Israel that would prevent the use of speakers mounted on minarets to summon Muslims for prayer overnight.
The bill, which was approved by ministers in February but has yet to be adopted by parliament, would apply to mosques in Israel as well as annexed Arab east Jerusalem, but not to the highly sensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam's third holiest site.
"God willing, we will never allow the silencing of azan (call to prayers) in the skies of Jerusalem," Erdogan said at the forum in Istanbul.
"What's the difference of Israel's current practices from the racist and discriminatory policies implemented towards the blacks in America in the past, and in South Africa more recently?" he asked.
Erdogan, a fervent supporter of Palestinians, made peace with Israel in June last year after bilateral ties deteriorated over the 2010 Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship that killed 10 Turkish activists.
Agencies contributed to this report.