After a cabinet meeting at the Presidential Complex in Ankara late Monday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a media conference in which he called on the UN, UN Security Council, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and other international organizations to take action focusing on wrestling Jerusalem away from Israel.
“Separate arrangement on Jerusalem”
“At this point, we believe there’s a need for a separate arrangement on Jerusalem. To achieve lasting peace and tranquility in Jerusalem, which contains the indispensable religious symbols of Muslims, Jews, and Christians, everyone must make sacrifices,” Erdogan said.
“In today’s circumstances, it would be the most correct and consistent course of action for Jerusalem to be administered by a commission of representatives from the three faiths. Otherwise, it doesn’t appear it will be easily possible to achieve lasting peace in this ancient city,” he added.
Erdogan has frequently made disturbing claims on Jerusalem as a Turkish birthright, perhaps based in the area once being part of the Ottoman Empire from 1516 to 1917.
“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,” he said in a major policy speech in 2020. “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 his speech on Monday, Erdogan referred to Israel as a “terror state.”
“This terror state, that has encroached on the privacy of Jerusalem on the one hand, while ruthlessly bombarding civilians in Gaza and leveling a colossal building housing media groups on the other, is Israel,” said Erdogan.
“But, you [Israel] are using disproportionate force, and you are dropping bombs on Gaza with your warplanes. Does Gaza have warplanes? No. Yours are countless, with which you strike.”
“The declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by the US and other countries following it towards the end of 2017 has increased the appetite of this murderous state to spill blood,” Erdogan said.
“Those who have no interest in the deaths of Palestinian children by bombs are terrified that Israeli children are frightened by the sound of missiles. Look at this! One should remain silent when children are put to sleep, not being killed,” he said.
Erdogan also criticized President Joe Biden for signing an arms deal with Israel.
“Today, we saw Biden’s signature for the arms [sale] to Israel. And, we found that this was an approval to sell 850,000 very very important weapons. When it comes to talking, they speak of disarmament,” he said.
“Mr. Biden, you sided with the Armenians on the so-called Armenian genocide. Now, unfortunately, you are writing history with your bloody hands in these events of seriously disproportionate attacks on Gaza that have caused the martyrdom of hundreds of thousands of people,” Erdogan added.
He also condemned Austria for flying an Israeli flag from its Chancellery building.
“Flying a flag of a terrorist state from an official building amounts to living under the projection of terrorism. The Austrian state seems to be trying to make Muslims pay for genocide to which it subjected Jews,” he said.
Erdogan has a central position in the OIC, an organization with 57 members. The OIC held an emergency meeting on Sunday due to the conflict between Israel and Hamas, calling for international intervention. “These efforts should also include physical protection through forming an international protection force with military and financial contributions of willing countries,” Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said during the virtual meeting, emphasizing that his country is willing to lead the effort.
This announcement led to a wave of posts on social media depicting armed Turkish troops moving towards Gaza.
These images were quickly debunked as being old and not depicting any real events.
It is interesting to note that İbrahim Kalin, Erdogan’s chief adviser, was also critical of Israel:
“Israel targeted the international press, adding a new one to human rights violations and war crimes in the Palestinian territories,” Kalin tweeted. We condemn Israeli cruelty, which knows no values and borders. Our struggle with this malignant power will continue until the occupation is over and all Palestine is liberated.”
Kalin’s homepage on Twitter features a photo of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.
Expert: “Turkish troops in Jerusalem would not be surprising”
Dr. Efrat Aviv, a senior lecturer in the Dept. of Middle Eastern Studies at Bar Ilan University and an expert on Turkey, understood that Turkish troops appearing in Jerusalem might be one possible outcome, should Erdogan have his way.
“Jerusalem is important to Erdogan for both political and religious reasons,” Dr. Aviv explained. “On one hand, an anti-Israel agenda in Turkey under the banner of Jerusalem unites the right and the left, even the extremists from both sides,” Dr. Aviv said. “In addition, Erdogan has aspirations, like several other Muslim leaders, to be the leader who unites the Muslim nations. He wants to take control of Jerusalem away from Jordan. For this reason, Turkey has been operating in Jerusalem for some time, working to control and strengthen the Muslims. Control of Jerusalem would give Erdogan religious standing as Saudi Arabia has through Mecca.”
“This is political but it is also religious,” she said. “Erdogan is a deeply religious Muslim, after all.”
Erdogan has been in communication with the leaders of both Hamas and the PA since the riots began inside Israel and Hamas began shooting rockets from Gaza last Monday.
“Hamas wants the support of Turkey and would like to be able to present Jerusalem to Erdogan,” Dr. Aviv explained, noting that Turkey is an essential element for Hamas operations. . In 2019, it was claimed that some of the terrorist organization’s senior members were using Istanbul as a safe haven. In August, Israel accused Turkey of giving refuge to Hamas operatives and of issuing passports to a dozen Hamas members. At the same time, Erdogan hosted a Hamas delegation led by the head of its Political Bureau, Ismail Haniyeh. In October last year, the Times of Israel reported that the group had set up an office in the city, as well as a secret facility which it allegedly uses to conduct cyberattacks on Israel.
“It will not be surprising if the Turkish army one day arrives in Jerusalem,” Dr. Aviv said. “It is certainly in their rhetoric.”
Any consideration of the situation in the region must necessarily take into account that the Turkish armed forces are ranked as the strongest military in the Middle East, stronger even than Egypt or Israel. The Turkish armed forces are, in fact, the second-largest standing military force in NATO, after the U.S. Armed Forces, with an estimated strength in 2015 of 639,551 military, civilian, and paramilitary personnel.
“Final Redemption is imminent”
Rabbi Pinchas Winston, a prolific end of days author, noted that the current situation with Turkey fits the pre-Gog and Magog prophecy described in Zechariah, but he added that this was only the beginning of the Biblical implications.
“Of course this is what Zechariah was referring to when he described Gog and Magog with all the nations rising up against Jerusalem,” Rabbi Winston said, citing a verse.
When all the nations of the earth gather against her. In that day, I will make Yerushalayim a stone for all the peoples to lift; all who lift it shall injure themselves Zechariah 12:3
“If you listen to the other nations, if you listen to Erdogan who is a leader in the Muslim world, it is a blatant miracle that they haven’t already joined together against Israel. But that is because the Prophecy of Zechariah will only happen when God commands it; just before the final redemption. And the final redemption is imminent and history is wrapping up, heading for the finale.”
“What we are seeing is the redemption beginning when the people are not ready, not doing what they should be doing,” Rabbi Winston said. “Hashem is causing turbulence, shaking the Jews up. Yishmael means that ‘God will hear.’ Their sole purpose is to get us to hear God and shout out to Him.”
“We have seen that the stage is set, all the elements are in place. The coronavirus was just one more element that pushed the world to the edge. Just a few more elements, one or two, and we will pass the tipping point.”