Israel gets tough with Turkey after years of its meddling in Jerusalem

Israel’s foreign ministry is planning to stop Turkish attempts to raise its profile in the eastern part of the capital.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Foreign Minister Israel Katz has instructed his office to put together a series of steps to block Turkey’s steadily rising influence in the heavily Arab, eastern parts of Jerusalem, Israel Hayom reported Monday.

First and foremost, the plan calls for classifying the entire Muslim Brotherhood as an illegal association in Israel.

This would extend the ban already in place against its Northern Movement in the Galilee to the Southern Movement which has been allowed to operate until now.

Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his political party, have their roots in the Brotherhood, whose stated goal is the re-establishment of a Muslim caliphate.

According to the newspaper, another major recommendation is to curtail the activities of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (Tika), which has the formal goal of “preventing the Judaization of Jerusalem.”

Tika spends millions of dollars a year under Erdogan’s direction to undermine Israeli sovereignty in the capital and sponsor events and activities to further that objective.

“We will not accept a situation in which the Turkish government headed by Erdogan acts to create centers of unrest and incitement in Jerusalem through funding and holding radical Islamic activities [inspired by] the Muslim Brotherhood and under the auspices and disguise of religious, social, cultural, and educational activities,” Katz said.

“The days of the Ottoman Empire are over.”

Turkey’s growing influence in heavily Arab parts of Jerusalem have been troubling Israeli security officials for years, Israel Hayom reports.

Turkey has been pouring money into Arab parts of the city for years in order to buy influence. According to a February article by David Koren for the Jerusalem Institute of Strategy and Security, Turkish organizations and the government have distributed tens of millions of dollars in aid, funded many infrastructure projects, and made a concerted effort to involve themselves  in Arab protests on the Temple Mount.

Erdogan also has gained popularity by taking the lead in criticizing Israel while championing the Palestinian cause since 2010, when Israeli commandos stopped a Turkish ship that was trying to run Israel’s legal sea blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. The incident and left 10 Turkish citizens dead after they attacked IDF soldiers who boarded.

In June 2018, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and even the Palestinian Authority called on Israel to stop Erdogan from burnishing his Islamic leadership credentials at their expense.

All three lay some claim to being custodians of the Temple Mount, which is the site of Islam’s third holiest shrine, and fear that the Turkish president is trying to usurp their roles.