Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan opened the Turkish parliament’s legislative session in Ankara on Thursday by declaring that “Jerusalem is our city.”
President @RTErdogan: “We consider it an honour on behalf of our country and nation to express the rights of the oppressed Palestinian people on every platform, with whom we have lived for centuries.” pic.twitter.com/yCcfrrc5RY
— Turkish Presidency (@trpresidency) October 1, 2020
Erdogan’s Speech to the Turkish Parliament
“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 said. “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.”
“Another crisis that our country and our nation carefully follow is the oppression of Israel against the Palestinians and the indifferent practices that disregard the privacy of Jerusalem,” he said toward the end of his address.
“The issue of Jerusalem is not an ordinary geopolitical problem for us. First of all, the current physical appearance of the Old City, which is the heart of Jerusalem, was built by Suleiman the Magnificent, with its walls, bazaar, and many buildings. Our ancestors showed their respect for centuries by keeping this city in high esteem,” Erdogan said, citing another fallacy, claiming that the Palestinian people have been living in Jerusalem “for thousands of years,” but they were occupied and had their rights violated.
Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world with the City of David showing first signs of settlement in the 4th millennium BCE. According to the Bible, King David conquered the city from the Jebusites and established it as the capital of the united kingdom of Israel, and his son, King Solomon, commissioned the building of the First Temple.
The Ottoman’s conquered Jerusalem in 1517, establishing their capital in Istanbul. The gradual decline of the Ottoman Empire led to widespread neglect of the region. By the end of the 18th century, much of the land was owned by absentee landlords and leased to impoverished tenant farmers. The great forests of Galilee and the Carmel mountain range were denuded of trees; swamp and desert encroached on agricultural land. There had always been a small Jewish population but as conditions improved in the 19th Century, Jewish immigration increased. After World War I, Great Britain took over Jerusalem, which was part of Palestine at the time. The British controlled the city and surrounding region until Israel became an independent state in 1948.
Erdogan Advocating for Palestinians
“We consider it an honor on behalf of our country and nation to express the rights of the oppressed Palestinian people on every platform, with whom we have lived for centuries,” he said. “With this understanding, we will follow both the Palestinian cause, which is the bleeding wound of the global conscience and the Jerusalem case to the end.”
The American Jewish Committee responded to Erdogan’s claim to Jerusalem noting that the Muslim occupation of Judaism’s holiest site ended with the Ottoman empire.
“So were Cairo, Athens, Budapest, Bucharest — and many more — at the height of the Ottoman Empire,” the AJC tweeted. “But this is 2020, President Erdogan, and nostalgia isn’t a policy. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.”
StandWithUs Israel executive director Michael Dickson tweeted, “Just like Iran’s Ayatollah, this other dictator plays politics with Jerusalem to act like a big man in the Middle East, when his influence is waning and his leadership dragging Turkey down the drain.”
“Jerusalem is our city,” Turkey’s @RTErdogan declares – Just like Iran’s Ayatollah, this other dictator plays politics with Jerusalem to act like a big man in the Middle East, when his influence is waning and his leadership dragging Turkey down the drain. https://t.co/vbP3pdXOIU
— Michael Dickson (@michaeldickson) October 1, 2020
He added in a subsequent tweet: “Meanwhile Jerusalem, the eternal Jewish capital, free and open to all since reunification, is experiencing a renaissance, the ancient city modernizing and bursting with life. And forward-thinking Arab countries are making peace with Israel for joint prosperity.”