Jul 09 2018

Israel planning to restrict Turkish gov’t aid agency’s influence in Jerusalem

Israel is looking to place restrictions on the activities of a Turkish government aid agency in East Jerusalem, Times of Israel newspaper reported.

Israel’s National Security Council is preparing limit the activities of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) - which is active in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip - amid fears from Israel and Arab nations about Ankara's efforts to stake claim in holy city of Jerusalem and other parts of Palestine, the newspaper said.

An increase in Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s anti-Israeli rhetoric is believed to have fuelled the decision.

According to a report by the country’s security council, TIKA has hosted members of the Islamic Movement at their offices, and that several of its employees transferred funds and information to Hamas, the Islamist governing party of the blockaded Palestinian territory of Gaza.

A general restriction on all TIKA actives or requiring the agency to obtain individual permits for each project is among the restrictions being considered, the newspaper said.

Last month, Israel’s Haaretz daily reported that the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Saudi Arabia were urging Israel to act against Turkish efforts in gaining a strong influence over East Jerusalem.

Turkey’s pro-government Daily Sabah has reported that TIKA has carried out 400 aid projects that include restoration work on the Dome of the Rock, and a new dorm room for female student’s at Ramallah’s Al-Quds University.

Haaretz reported that Turkey was attempting to purchase property through government charities, a move that made Palestinian Authority weary of  having ‘’another landlord in East Jerusalem.”

Turkish-Israeli relations hit rock bottom in 2010, when an Israeli naval ship raided a Turkish flotilla attempting to break Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Ten 10 Turkish citizens were killed in the incident while several Israeli soldiers were wounded.

Israel and Turkey expelling each other’s envoys in May following deadly clashes against the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem on the Gaza Strip border.

The Turkish president accused Israel of being “a terror state” committing “genocide” against Palestinians.