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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

An Ottoman Return to Jerusalem?

Filed under: Jerusalem, Jordan, Turkey

An Ottoman Return to Jerusalem?
Three hundred Turkish demonstrators on the Temple Mount, 2015

Following Israel’s reconciliation agreement with Turkey on June 26, 2016, attention was given to Turkey’s involvement in Gaza and how it can influence Hamas. But attention was not paid to Turkey’s deepening involvement in east Jerusalem and in the mosques on the Temple Mount, in particular. 

Last week violence broke out on the Temple Mount, and among the rioters arrested were three Turkish citizens who came to Jerusalem as tourists.  It is not new that Turkey raises its profile on the Temple Mount. Turkey’s supporters, mostly from Israeli Arab protesters from Sheikh Raed Salah’s Islamic Movement in Israel, have carried Turkish flags in the past, and Turkish flag stickers were plastered on the walls of the buildings of the mosque plaza. 

In addition, Turkey’s religious institutions are acquiring religious properties in east Jerusalem, particularly places with ties to Ottoman history in Jerusalem.

Senior Turkish officers visiting the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, 1916
Senior Turkish officers visiting the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, 1916
(Ottoman Archives)

Turkey one day may demand some kind of official status in east Jerusalem. It is not investing in Jerusalem for nothing. 

This, of course, is a challenge for Israel, but it is no less so for Jordan. Any gains for Turkey on the Temple Mount inevitably will come at the expense of Jordan.  This is not a case of speculation. Several months ago, Turkey’s minister of religious affairs was given a royal welcome on the mosque plaza, while two days later Jordanian religious leaders who came were violently chased away.

Turkey’s involvement in Gaza must be of concern to Israel, but its involvement in Jerusalem should be no less.