Turkish President Erdogan Fans Flames of Jerusalem Conflict in Hardline Messages to Hamas, PLO Leaders
Turkey’s Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan unashamedly sought to intensify the conflict in eastern Jerusalem between Palestinians and the Israeli authorities on Monday, as he promised leaders of both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas that Ankara would “mobilize the whole world, especially the Islamic world, to stop Israel’s terrorism and occupation.”
In separate telephone calls with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh, Erdogan condemned “the cruelty inflicted on Palestinians and these vile attacks that hurt not only the conscience of Muslims, but the whole of humanity.”
Erdogan stressed that Turkey would always be a “supporter of the Palestinian cause, stand by its Palestinian brothers and protect Jerusalem’s dignity.”
The Turkish leader’s outreach to both sides of the divided Palestinian political leadership followed an inflammatory speech on Saturday night in which he demonized Israel as terrorist state.
“Cruel Israel, the terror state of Israel, has been violently and immorally attacking the Muslims in Jerusalem, who dream of nothing but protecting all the things they deem sacred, the homes they have inherited from their families for thousands of years, their lands,” Erdogan declared.
Erdogan’s long-established championing of the Palestinian issue has been integral to his efforts to assert Turkish leadership of the Islamic world over the last decade, a stance labeled by some observers as “neo-Ottoman.”
Always eager for evidence that the Palestinians themselves regard Erdogan as their liberator-in-waiting, several of Turkey’s pro-government news outlets on Monday ran the same story about a Palestinian activist in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood calling on the Turkish President to re-establish the Ottoman Empire.
“Erdogan, the light of both of my eyes, come and liberate Palestine,” urged Sheikh Jarrah resident Fatima Es-Sus, known as Umm Aymen, in comments to reporters from Turkey’s AA news agency.
“Come and establish the Ottoman Empire again. Let’s live together not only for 500 years, but for thousands of years,” Es-Sus continued.