Israeli President Reuven Rivlin Tuesday sought to counter Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s claim that Israel was attempting to “judaize” Yerushalayim, with Rivlin noting the Jewish majority in Israel’s capital dates back to the Ottoman period.
“We have heard voices which attack Israel for building Jewish life in Jerusalem,” Rivlin said during a meeting with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in Yerushalayim, referring to Erdogan’s statements. “I must tell these people, for the last 150 years there has been a Jewish majority in Jerusalem. Even under the Ottoman Empire there was a Jewish majority in Jerusalem.”
The Ottoman Empire took over Jerusalem in 1517, and the British seized control of the holy city 400 years later.
Rivlin added, “Under Israeli sovereignty, we continue to build Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people. There is no doubt Jerusalem is a microcosm of our ability to live together. And we will continue to ensure freedom of religion for all faiths.”
Following a speech at a Turkish conference Monday in which he accused Israel of “racist and discriminatory” policies against the Palestinians, Erdogan met with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Istanbul, where the two reportedly discussed ways to “protect Jerusalem against attempts of judaization.”