Israel worried over Turkish influence in East Jerusalem

Two right-wing members of Israeli parliament Knesset criticised Turkish humanitarian activity in occupied East Jerusalem where Turkey invested millions of dollars in 63 different projects.

Photo by: Reuters Archive
Photo by: Reuters Archive

A general view picture shows the Israeli barrier running along the East Jerusalem refugee camp of Shuafat (L), as the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya is seen on the right, February 15, 2017.

Two Israeli lawmakers on Thursday called for a parliamentary session to discuss ongoing Turkish support and aid allocations for East Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Rabbi Yehuda Glick of Israel’s right-wing Likud party and Shuli Maalem of the right-wing Jewish Home party made the request, Israel HaYom, a Hebrew-language daily close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, reported.

They made the request after the same newspaper published a report on the front page of its Wednesday edition that criticised Turkish humanitarian activity in the historical city.

The report asserted that, one century after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey had begun to reassert its influence in the area by pouring millions of dollars of aid into East Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, referred to by Jews as the “Temple Mount”.

According to the report, Turkey's allies in East Jerusalem are the bitter enemies of Israel: namely, Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement in Israel (northern branch), and Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, a former mufti of Jerusalem.

“Since 2004, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) has invested millions of dollars in 63 different projects throughout East Jerusalem,” the report stated.

It added: “The overall objective of Turkish activities there is the safeguarding and strengthening of Jerusalem's Muslim heritage and identity.”

The report goes on to point out that TIKA is currently working to restore Ottoman-era Muslim archives in East Jerusalem and the iconic Dome of the Rock Mosque, noting that a “Turkish presence” was easily discernable in the city.

“Turkish flags and food can be seen everywhere, indicating the country's influence in the city,” it stated.

According to the same report, ongoing Turkish investment in Jerusalem had eroded the earlier Jordanian influence, despite the Hashemite Kingdom’s historical status as “guardian of Jerusalem's Muslim holy sites”.

The newspaper went on to lament the mounting popularity of Turkey and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan among Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents.

Earlier this month, a report was prepared for Nir Barkat, the Jewish mayor of Jerusalem, on the increasing Turkish influence in the city, entitled, “The Turks take over Jerusalem”.

TRTWorld, AA