Turkey’s Islamic centre near Temple Mount sparks criticism - Israeli newspaper

Turkey's new Islamic centre in Jerusalem, built by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA), along with several other Turkish activities in the city, has sparked criticism, Israel Hayom said on Wednesday.

On display at the centre are study guides about Ottoman Heritage in Old Jerusalem, some published by TİKA, alongside the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Turkish flags and pictures documenting dawa, or the Islamic cause, which focuses on charity, education, and social assistance in an attempt to bring people closer to Islam, Israel Hayom said, citing a report from a Jerusalem think tank.

"This is how they buy the public with a big hug from Turkey – through business, tourism, and money," Israel Hayom cited Middle East expert Mordechai Kedar as saying.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a fierce critic of Israel and a vocal supporter of Palestinians. Under his leadership, Turkey has been investing heavily in the Palestinian Authority, with the TİKA having completed more than 600 projects in Palestine since 2005.

Meanwhile, another Turkish initiative called "Our Heritage" aims to preserve Ottoman Heritage in Jerusalem by restoring mosques, homes, fountains, markets and more. It also undertakes a variety of social initiatives, distributing food to the needy, hosting an Eid meal at Temple Mount, and providing backpacks to children.

"Israel must stop the ‘Our Heritage’ activity in east Jerusalem. The Turkish group's activity seeks to disrupt Israeli sovereignty in the city and the unity of Jerusalem," said Maor Tzemach, chairman of the Lach, Yerushalayim ("For You, Jerusalem") organisation.

Relations between Israel and Turkey have steadily cooled since Erdoğan became prime minister in 2003. U.S. President Donald Trump’s December 2017 recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel sparked a diplomatic row between Turkey, the United States and Israel.