Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday agreed to allow a Turkish team to inspect the construction site at the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem.
Muslims fear excavation at the site will harm the face of the nearby Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The announcement was made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after he met Olmert in Ankara.
Erdogan said his Israeli counterpart had shown him photographs of the construction work, but had failed to convince him that it would not harm the holy sites there.
Olmert then agreed to a Turkish suggestion for a technical team from Turkey to inspect the site, Erdogan said.
Olmert said he agreed to the inspection because “Israel has nothing to hide.”
He added that the matter of the construction on the site had been misconstrued and presented in a tendentious way in the international media.
“The construction of this bridge next to the Western Wall has been taken out of context, but we will cooperate with everyone and will be happy to host the delegation in order to show that the Israeli story is correct and exact,” he said.
In an interview published earlier on Thursday, Erdogan harshly criticised the construction work conducted by Israel at the Mugrabi Gate at the Temple Mount.
A Turkish newspaper quoted Erdogan as saying, “Turkey is disturbed and angered by Israel’s actions, which raise tensions in the entire region.”
Demonstrations in Istanbul against Israeli prime minister’s visit
A demonstration was staged in the city of Istanbul, the largest Turkish city, on Thursday in protest of the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s current visit to Turkey.
The Turkish, “NTV” network, said a group of the “Oppressed House” association organized a major demonstration in Istanbul, condemning the visit at a time where Holy places in Jerusalem were subject to Israeli sabotage.
Turkish police were deployed in large forces to guard against any rioting and chaos, the network said.
The demonstration was staged while the Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Israeli counterpart held talks in Ankara tackling the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Excavation at Aqsa Mosque part of scheme to demolish it
The head of the Palestinian delegation and member of the legislative assembly, Jamal Ayesh, said on Thursday Israel’s “arbitrary measures” against the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque was a main topic in the currently-held Ninth session of the Council of Parliamentary Union of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (PUOIC).
Ayesh, said in a statement on sidelines of the conference recent excavation work under the mosque “constituted an explicit proof of the Israeli arrogance against the Muslims.”
These measures are ultimately intended to demolish the mosque and establish in its place Solomon Temple, in line with some Hardline Jewish religious beliefs, he said.
He called on Muslim nations to close ranks and warned against intervention by foreign states in the domestic affairs of the Muslim nations.