Turkey's president on Sunday underlined that the Hagia Sophia's status is an internal matter, urging other countries to respect the final decision of the country.

"The final decision-maker on the status of the Hagia Sophia is the Turkish nation, not others. This is our internal affair," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Istanbul-based journal Kriter.

Erdogan stressed that other countries should respect Turkey's decision, adding that the conversion of the iconic landmark from a mosque to a museum in 1934 was "a painful decision for our nation."

He dismissed domestic and foreign criticism on the decision, saying they had "no value" in the courts.

On Friday, a top Turkish court annulled a 1934 cabinet decree, which had turned Istanbul's Hagia Sophia into a museum.

This verdict by the country's Council of State paved the way for its use again as a mosque after 85 years.

It ruled that the architectural gem had been owned by a foundation established by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II, the conqueror of Istanbul, and presented to the community as a mosque -- a status that cannot be legally changed.

The Hagia Sophia was used as a church for centuries under the rule of the Byzantine Empire. It was turned into a mosque following the conquest of Istanbul in 1453. In 1935, the Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum.

President Erdogan said the historical complex will be ready for worship by Friday prayers on July 24.

Israel's annexation plan

On recent plans by Israel to annex about 30% of the West Bank, Erdogan criticized the international community's "silence" on injustices committed by Tel Aviv in Palestine.

"Israel's announcement of the annexation plan of Palestinian settlements in the West Bank and Jordan Valley is a new step in the policy of occupation and persecution," he said.

"Although all the lands belonged to Palestine in 1947, Palestine has shrunk and Israel has got bigger over the years. With the invasion of Jerusalem in 1967, a new phase began. Today, unfortunately, there is no longer a place called Palestine on the map. Almost all of Palestine's lands have been swallowed by Israel. Now, Israel wants to occupy the remaining land. The annexation plan aims for this goal."

Erdogan urged the world to stop Israel's "lawless steps," stressing that Muslims had no prejudice or hostility towards Jewish and Israeli people.

"What we oppose is the Israeli government's invasive and unlawful policies."

Israel declared earlier this month that it had postponed its plans to annex parts of the West Bank, but that it would "certainly happen in July."

Palestinian officials have threatened to abolish bilateral agreements with Israel if it goes ahead with annexation, which would further undermine a two-state solution.

Turkey and much of the international community do not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories it has occupied since 1967.