Dec 08 2017

Turkey reacts to Trump Jerusalem gambit

Turkey condemned the Israeli and U.S. governments for provoking incidents in Jerusalem and the West Bank on Friday, while Turkish citizens around the country protested U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“Turkey condemns the Israeli government over the incidents today in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and also the Trump administration for causing the violence,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ was quoted by the pro-government Daily Sabah as saying.

Turkish citizens throughout the country protested the decision, with turnouts especially high in the Kurdish-majority southeastern region.

Demonstration in Siirt in southeast Turkey
Demonstration in Siirt in southeast Turkey

While the majority of protestors were devout Muslims who demonstrated after coming together for Friday prayers, there were also demonstrations in front of the U.S. embassy in Ankara and consulate in Istanbul by hard-left groups with connections to the Palestinian left.

Demonstration outside Fatih Mosque in Istanbul. Banner reads "Jerusalem belongs to Islam"
Demonstration outside Fatih Mosque in Istanbul. Banner reads "Jerusalem belongs to Islam"

In Jerusalem itself, Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu reported, Israeli troops were using live ammunition and teargas against protestors.

Davide Lerner, a freelance journalist in Jerusalem, tweeted that this was “simply not true”, and that the city remained “relatively calm, however skirmishes between police forces and worshippers were reported at Jerusalem's Damascus Gate.”

Former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu called Trump’s decision “one of the greatest political crimes of the 21st Century” in a Facebook statement.

“There will be no Palestine without Jerusalem; there will be no peace without Jerusalem,” he said.

“This decision is a wholesale declaration of war on the Islamic world,” columnist Resul Tosun said in the pro-government Star newspaper. “Today this development legitimising the occupation of Jerusalem will turn into an attempt to occupy Khaybar and Medina tomorrow, and Anatolia the next morning,” he said, referring to a place in present-day Saudi Arabia where Muslims and Jews fought in the seventh century, the Saudi holy city and the main part of Turkey.

Others looked at the issue from a historical perspective, reflecting on the city’s Ottoman heritage.

“We are impatiently awaiting the day when the glories of the Ottoman caliphate return and the liberation of Muslims from Israeli rule,” Palestinian Islamic University history lecturer Ghassan Mahmut Sasha told the Islamist Akit newspaper.

“It was the Arabs who were happiest that we lost Jerusalem,” columnist Yılmaz Özdil wrote in the secularist Sözcü newspaper, reminding readers that the centenary of Britain occupying the city would be on Saturday.

“What is happening in Jerusalem today … Is the result of Arab treachery.”