Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Palestinian Authority have conveyed messages of concern to Israel over the past year, about Turkey’s growing presence in eastern Jerusalem, Ha’aretz reported Thursday. The three governments believe that the purpose of the Turkish presence is to allow president Erdogan to become the guardian of Jerusalem in the eyes of the Muslim world.
Senior officials in Ramallah, Amman, and Riyadh say that areas of Turkish influence are being developed under Israel’s nose in the eastern neighborhoods of the city, endangering both their and Israel’s national interests.
A police source told Ha’aretz that the Turks “are trying to acquire real estate and establish their status using foundations that supports eastern Jerusalem’s Arab residents.” He said that this activity disturbs the Palestinian Authority, which “is not interested in receiving another landlord ruling over eastern Jerusalem,” as he put it.
The Jordanians, for their part, are afraid that Erdogan is trying to undermine the status of the Hashemite Kingdom as guardian of the holy Muslim sites in the city.
The PA’s main concern is that the Turkish presence would weaken its position in the city while boosting Hamas and other Islamic groups looking to replace the PLO at the helm of a future Palestinian State.
The Saudis fear that Erdogan’s influence in the Muslim Arab world would increase, framing the Turkish president as leader of the struggle against Israel and the Trump administration over the status of Jerusalem.
Sources in the defense establishment confirmed to Ha’aretz that Israel had been approached by its neighbors regarding the Erdogan campaign in Jerusalem, but suggested the worst of it is over. They believe the Turkish campaign peaked last year, when hundreds of Turkish pilgrims used to come to the Temple Mount carrying Turkish flags and banners of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, and initiated confrontations with police inside the compound.
The same Israeli security sources noted that the Jerusalem police had already taken action in this matter when it arrested prominent Turkish activists and issued orders to expel them from Israel and to ban their future visits.