Israel is considering restricting the activities of Turkey’s international aid agency in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories in an effort to counter President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s reported efforts to extend his influence in East Jerusalem, Hadashot news reported Saturday.
The National Security Council has drafted possible measures to be taken against the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) that operates in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.
According to the report, Israeli intelligence officials believe that TIKA has hosted members of the Islamic Movement at their offices, and that several of its employees transferred funds and information to the Hamas terrorist group.
Among the measures under consideration was imposing a general restriction on all TIKA actives or requiring the agency to obtain individual permits for each project.
Hadashot said Israel’s suspicions of TIKA were intensified by the recent uptick in Erdogan’s anti-Israel rhetoric.
Last month, the Haaretz daily reported that Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Palestinian Authority were urging Israel to act against Erdogan’s efforts in East Jerusalem.
The report said Turkish Islamic associations in recent years have been sponsoring an increasing number of programs and trips for thousands of local Palestinians, and had a strong influence in the protests around the Temple Mount.
One Israeli official told Haaretz in June that Turkey was attempting to purchase property through government charities, and that the Palestinian Authority was weary of “having another landlord in East Jerusalem.”
Diplomats told the paper that Jordan began expressing concern to Jerusalem over a year ago and accused it of “being asleep at the wheel,” since singing the reconciliation agreement with Turkey in 2016.