Israel working to block Turkey’s influence among Palestinians in Jerusalem

Israel is seeking ways to restrict Turkey’s activity in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria in an effort to counter the regime’s influence on the Palestinians.

By: World Israel News Staff and JNS

Turkey has recently been renovating homes in eastern Jerusalem and distributing food to needy Arab residents of the Israeli capital with the aim of expanding Turkish influence in the city.

Israel has been seeking ways to restrict this activity.

Israel’s Hadashot TV reported Saturday that the National Security Council has delineated possible measures to be taken against the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), which operates among the Palestinians.

Since 2011, TIKA has been under the leadership of Dr. Serdar Cam, Erdogan’s former chief of staff.

According to the report, Israeli intelligence believes that TIKA employees have transferred funds and information to the Hamas terrorist group and have met with the outlawed Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement.

The moves include revoking TIKA’s permits to operate in Israel and scrutiny of permits only for individual projects.

In May, Israel Hayom reported that TIKA handed out about $420,000 in $500 checks to eastern Jerusalem merchants and residents as a gift for Ramadan with the goal of drumming up support for Turkish policies among the Muslim public there. The burgeoning presence of Turkish NGOs in the area clearly illustrates Turkey’s success in further strengthening its influence among eastern Jerusalem residents.

One purpose: To reestablish Turkish control

The funding has one purpose: Turkey wants to re-establish control over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. The Turkish cultural and nationalist awakening in Israel’s capital, strongly felt by residents of eastern Jerusalem, is backed by Erdogan, who sees himself as a patron of the Muslim Brotherhood, the man behind the resurgence of the Ottoman Empire and the father of an Ottoman caliphate that will one day return to Jerusalem.

Last month, the Ha’aretz daily reported that Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority were urging Israel to act against Erdogan’s efforts in Jerusalem. The report said Turkish Islamic associations in recent years have had a strong influence in the protests and violence around the Temple Mount.

The Turkish activities have sparked considerable consternation in Israel.

“This is a very serious issue because it is state-sponsored subversion,” said Knesset member Anat Berko (Likud), a member of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

“The person masterminding the activities is Erdogan, who thinks of himself as a sultan. Even during his election campaign, he relied on hatred for Israel. This subversion has to be blocked and prevented before we lose control,” she said.

“They are fanning the flames on the Temple Mount as well. Turkey today resembles the days leading up to the Khomeini revolution in Iran. [In Turkey], we see a revolution by the Muslim Brotherhood, spearheaded by Erdogan, with the aim Islamizing Turkey,” Berko stated.

Maor Zemach, head of the Lach Yerushalayim (“For You, Jerusalem”) advocacy group, said: “Turkish intervention in Jerusalem must be stopped. Israel’s sovereignty is being attacked as funds are being funneled through various Turkish organizations, and this needs to end immediately. This activity aims to convince the residents of eastern Jerusalem to support Turkey, which is waging a war against the Jewish presence in Jerusalem and calls for maintaining Jerusalem’s status as Muslim.”