Turkey's Erdogan ramps up Jerusalem defender role, to speak with Herzog

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced the call on Tuesday but did not specify when it would take place.

President Isaac Herzog met with Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara March 9, 2022. (photo credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)
President Isaac Herzog met with Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara March 9, 2022.
(photo credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)

Turkey has ramped up its role as the diplomatic defender of the Palestinians and Jerusalem in light of the Temple Mount violence, as its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to speak with his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog about the issue Tuesday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced the call.

Herzog visited Turkey last month as part of a sudden warming of ties between the two countries, which have been frayed as a result of tensions due to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Erdogan took the unusual step earlier this month of calling Herzog to condemn attacks by Israeli-Arab and Palestinian terrorists in three separate Israeli cities in March that claimed 11 lives. Tuesday's call will be the second conversation between them this month.

On Sunday, however, Erdogan condemned Israeli police action against Palestinian rioters on Temple Mount, also known as al-Haram al-Sharif, explaining that his country would always stand with the Palestinians.

 Aerial view of the Temple Mount from a police helicopter as massive clashes broke out on Friday, April 15, 2022.  (credit: ISRAEL POLICE) Aerial view of the Temple Mount from a police helicopter as massive clashes broke out on Friday, April 15, 2022. (credit: ISRAEL POLICE)

Erdogan in the last few days has held calls on the matter with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan's King Abdullah and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The Secretary-General "reaffirmed his position that the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem must be upheld and respected. Any provocation must be avoided at all costs."

According to the Red Crescent, 300 Palestinians have been injured since Friday in the Temple Mount and in the Old City due to clashes with Israeli police, most of them sustained light injuries.

Erdogan has shared the Arab world's concern that Israeli wants to change the status quo on the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, under whose terms Jews can visit but not pray at the site.

Jerusalem had been part of Turkey's former Ottoman Empire from 1517-1917 and Turkey, much like Jordan's Hashemite Kingdom feels a special connection to the city.  Turkey has in the past played a mediator role for Israel and is also one of the countries attempting to mediate between Russia and Ukraine.