Turkish strongman lays pre-WW1 Ottoman claim to Israel’s capital, saying it “is our city.”
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Thursday that Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem still belongs to Turkey.
In a speech marking the opening of the fall session of Turkey’s parliament, covered by Turkish media, Erdoğan began with harsh criticism of Armenia for the the armed conflict that broke out this week with Azerbaijan and their mutual claims to the Nagorno-Karabakh region. However, his comments shifted closer to home and he made the surprise remark that Jerusalem still belongs to Turkey.
“The Jerusalem issue is not a geopolitical problem for us. Jerusalem is our city, a city from us,” Erdogan said, referring to the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War One.
“In this city [Jerusalem] that we had to leave in tears during the first world war, it is still possible to encounter traces of the Ottoman resistance,” Erdogan said. “We accept it an honor on behalf of our country and nation to express the rights of the oppressed Palestinian people on every platform.”
The Ottoman Empire controlled Jerusalem for 400 years until its defeat at the hands of the Western allies who divided up the former empire, with many of its former provinces becoming independent Arab countries. During the war the Ottomans also carried out the Armenian genocide, murdering some 1.5 million Christian Armenians – enmity that remains and led to Erdogan’s condemnation of Armenia.
Despite Turkey being a member of NATO, relations with Israel have been repeatedly strained under Erdogan.
Relations between the two countries took a nosedive in 2010 after nine Turkish nationals belonging to a radical Islamic group were killed during an IDF raid of the Mavi Marmara flotilla that was trying to illegally violate Israel’s blockade on Gaza.
Turkey withdrew its ambassador and relations were only restored in 2016. However, Erdogan has tried to assert his influence over the region and has become a patron of the Hamas terror group that seized power in Gaza in a bloody 2007 military coup.
Turkey has been allowing Hamas to use its territory to organize against Israel and was recently revealed to be giving citizenship to known Hamas terrorists, allowing them free passage in the West.