09:27 GMT24 September 2020
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    Israel may reportedly limit a Turkish government aid agency’s activities in Jerusalem and Palestinian territories amid concerns over Ankara’s alleged growing clout over Palestinians.

    Israel’s National Security Council has drafted a list of measures against the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), operating in East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Hadashot TV reported.

    READ MORE: Netanyahu Warned by Arabs About Erdogan's Alleged Clout in E Jerusalem — Reports

    Among the possible measures are imposing a general restriction on TIKA’s activities and demanding that the agency obtain individual permits for its projects. At the same time, Israeli intelligence officials are said to believe that TIKA had hosted members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement and that some staff members had funneled funds and information to the Hamas movement.

    According to the report, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s anti-Israel rhetoric has fueled Tel Aviv’s suspicions of TIKA. This echoes a recent report by Haaretz, which suggested that the Palestinian Authority (PA), as well as Saudi Arabia and Jordan, had warned Israel over Erdogan’s efforts to “claim ownership over the Jerusalem issue” by expanding Ankara’s influence in East Jerusalem.

    Jordan, for its part, accused Israel of “sleeping at the wheel” and failing to react to Turkey’s increased clout in East Jerusalem, something that Amman allegedly said could be explained by Tel Aviv’s reluctance to jeopardize the reconciliation agreement signed with Ankara in 2016.

    Haaretz further reported that Turkish Islamic associations have increasingly been sponsoring programs and trips for thousands of local Palestinians and allegedly encouraged protests around the Temple Mount.

    Riyadh is also said to be worried that Erdogan will use his influence in Jerusalem to emerge as the custodian of the Muslim sites in the city, thus cementing his growing authority over the Arab-Muslim world.

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    In April-May 2018, relations between Israel and Turkey hit a fresh low point after they expelled each other’s envoys amid an Erdogan-Netanyahu war of words over deadly clashes in Gaza and the US Embassy’s transfer to Jerusalem.

    As the Palestinians’ Great March of Return turned violent, the Turkish president accused the Jewish state of “thuggery, violence and state terror,” and even compared Israel’s suppression of Palestinian protesters to the Nazi persecution of Jews. He then dismissed Prime Minister Netanyahu as “the PM of an apartheid state,” who “has the blood of Palestinians on his hands.”

    Netanyahu struck back, saying, “A man who sends thousands of Turkish soldiers to hold the occupation of northern Cyprus and invades Syria will not preach to us.”

    In 2016, Israel and Turkey clinched an agreement to normalize their relations six years after an Israeli naval raid on the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara aid ship attempting to breach the blockade of the Gaza Strip left 10 Turkish activists dead.

    Prime Minister Erdogan had blasted the raid as a “bloody massacre” and “state terrorism,” demanding Tel Aviv apologize, pay compensation to the families of the deceased and lift the Gaza blockade.

    In 2013, Netanyahu voiced regret over the incident to Erdogan, and in September 2016, Tel Aviv paid $20 million in compensation to the families of the victims as part of an agreement reached in August, which contributed to the normalization of bilateral relations after a six-year-long diplomatic crisis.

    aid, palestinians, influence, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Benjamin Netanyahu, Turkey, Israel
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