In the midst of an escalating diplomatic crisis between Ankara and Jerusalem, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday met with representatives of the rabidly anti-Zionist group Neturei Karta.
Erdoğan and Turkey’s Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Ömer Çelik, who were in the British capital for an official visit, hosted Neturei Karta’s Rabbi Elhanan Beck and at least two other members of the ultra-Orthodox sect, according to the Turkish presidency’s website.
The meeting took place in Erdoğan’s London hotel room and lasted about 30 minutes. The presidency’s website posted a short item with a photo, saying that Erdoğan received “representatives of Jewish Community.”
Neturei Karta is a fringe group that rejects Zionism and the State of Israel on religious grounds. Citing Talmudic sources, the sect argues that Jews have no right to political sovereignty in the Holy Land before the coming of the messiah. Rather, they believe that Jews must patiently wait for divine redemption and, in the meantime, they advocate for the dismantling of the State of Israel.
The group, which has small followings in Israel, the UK, Belgium and the New York region, is known for staging vocal protests against Israel and for submissive and respectful visits to its enemies. In 2006, for instance, Neturei Karta leaders participated in a government-sponsored Holocaust denial conference in Tehran.
Turkish president receives delegation of Neturei Karta, yesterday, May 15, during his visit to London
According to the Yeshiva World website, Beck, who was born in Jerusalem and resides in London, told the Turkish president that Israel is the most dangerous country for Jewish people in the world today.
“Helping the Zionists is not in the interests of the Jewish people. If you want to help the Jews, come out and say loudly that you are against the State of Israel,” Beck told Erdoğan, according to Yeshiva World.
We do not want two states either. We support the return of the Palestinian people. There Jews and Muslims can live together in peace
“We are against the occupiers. We want to bring peace to the area. As Jews, we pray for the complete dissolution of the Israeli state in a peaceful manner. We do not want two states either. We support the return of the Palestinian people. There Jews and Muslims can live together in peace.”
Beck added, “We can live in peace and harmony all over the world in Palestine, as it was many years ago with Muslims.”
The website did not report what the Turkish president replied.
Israel and Turkey are involved in an ongoing tit-for-tat over Israel’s response to Monday’s violent protests at the Gaza border.
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said 60 Palestinians were killed and more than 2,700 more injured in clashes.
The IDF said Tuesday that at least 24 of the dead were members of terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Those groups acknowledged 13 of their members were among the dead.Israel claims that Hamas is spurring the violence and using it for cover for attacks.
Erdoğan placed the blame squarely with Israel, accusing it of being a “terrorist state” that commits “genocide.” Turkey recalled its ambassador in Tel Aviv and expelled Israel’s envoys to Ankara and Istanbul.
Israel responded in kind, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying Erdoğan “well understands terrorism and slaughter” and should not preach to Israel over military ethics.