Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday asserted before his parliament that the country has a claim to Jerusalem, alluding to the time of the Ottoman Empire’s control over the region. The latest declaring of Erdogan’s Islamist ambitions.
“In this city that we had to leave in tears during the First World War, it is still possible to come across traces of the Ottoman resistance. So Jerusalem is our city, a city from us,” Erdogan was cited by The Times of Israel as telling Turkish lawmakers in Ankara.
“Our first qibla [direction of prayer in Islam] al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem are the symbolic mosques of our faith. In addition, this city is home to the holy places of Christianity and Judaism.”
Jerusalem was under the authority of the Ottoman Empire, the forerunner of the Republic of Turkey, until 1917 when it was liberated by the British during World War I. Erdogan, an Islamist, has frequently railed at Israel in regard to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is situated on the Temple Mount — the holiest place in Judaism.
Erdogan recently converted the iconic Hagia Sofia cathedral in Istanbul into a mosque.
According to the pro-government Turkish daily, Yeni Şafak, the Turkish leader then said that “the resurrection of Hagia Sophia was the harbinger of the liberation of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and footsteps of Muslims’ will to leave hard days behind.”
Last week, Glad Erdan, the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, walked out of the UN General Assembly in protest against the speech given by Erdogan in a prerecorded video address.
In his inflammatory remarks, Erdogan accused the Jewish state of extending its “dirty hand” over Jerusalem. “The order of occupation and oppression in Palestine, which is the bleeding wound of humanity, continues to hurt consciences.”
“The dirty hand that reaches the privacy of Jerusalem, where the sacred places of the three great religions coexist, is constantly increasing its audacity,” the Turkish leader declared.
As he made the remarks, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan rose out of his seat and slowly left of the General Assembly hall. Footage of the walkout was subsequently distributed by Israel’s mission.
Erdan stated later that “Erdogan continues with his anti-Semitic remarks and lies against Israel and it’s important that the world recognize the double standard that he has been living by for many years.”
We call upon the UK Government to officially recognise Jerusalem is Israel's capital and move its embassy to Jerusalem.