Alarm Over Turkish Moves in East Yerushalayim

YERUSHALAYIM -

Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinians have been seething for months over what they perceive as a Turkish attempt to gain influence in east Yerushalayim and even take over control of the Muslim sites in the city, according to media reports.

The Turkish presence in Yerushalayim has increased over the past year with many Turkish nationals visiting and participating in protest demonstrations around Har HaBayis.

Israeli officials are downplaying the problem. While they admitted to Haaretz that Jordan complained of threatening Turkish activities as much as a year ago, the problem has since diminished.

They maintained that the Turkish surge reached a high point a year ago when Turkish citizens waved Turkish flags and banners of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP party, and instigated fights with Israeli security guards. Israeli authorities took note of the phenomenon, and deported the main troublemakers.

An official was also quoted confirming that Turkey was seeking a stronger presence in Yerushalayim, and wanted to acquire property in the city through its charities. He told the paper that the Palestinian Authority was concerned about Erdogan trying to “muscle in,” saying “they were not interested in having another landlord in East Jerusalem.”

As for Saudi Arabia, the report said the kingdom thinks that Erdogan hopes to gain influence in Yerushalayim as a way of bolstering his image of defender of the faith in confronting Israel and the U.S.

Israeli authorities reportedly are continuing to monitor the situation.