Turkey's President Erdogan says he will open an embassy in East Jerusalem

Chris Baynes
The President greets his supporters during an opening ceremony of a new metro line in Istanbul on 15 December: Reuters

Turkey will open an embassy in East Jerusalem, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said, days after leading calls at a summit of Muslim leaders for the world to recognise it as the capital of Palestine.

“God willing, the day is close when officially, with God’s permission, we will open our embassy there,” he said in a speech, while maintaining his fierce criticism of the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The Turkish leader has been one of the loudest voices in a global chorus of condemnation over Donald Trump’s announcement – that the US would break with decades of established foreign policy by relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv.

Mr Erdogan spoke about plans for a Turkish embassy in Jerusalem during a speech to his AK Party in the southern province of Karaman.

It come after Muslim world leaders this week called for the area to be recognised as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

The draft, declaration by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), was issued following an extraordinary meeting of the 57-state group to hammer out a unified response to Mr Trump’s decision.

Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said earlier this week that Turkey would open an embassy in East Jerusalem once the world recognised an independent Palestine.

It is not clear how Turkey would carry out the embassy move, as Israel controls all of Jerusalem and calls the city its indivisible capital.

Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967 in a move that has never been recognised internationally. Both Israel and Palestine claim Jerusalem as their capital, and the city’s status remains a major stumbling block in peace talks.

Foreign embassies in Israel, including that of Turkey, are located in Tel Aviv, reflecting Jerusalem’s unresolved status.

Mr Trump shocked even some of his county’s closest allies on 6 December by following though with a campaign promise to formally recognise the city – considered holy by Islam, Judaism and Christianity – as Israel’s undivided capital.

Many world leaders voiced fears the controversial move would spark renewed violence in the region and wider Muslim world.

Protests have been held across the globe and four Palestinians killed in violent clashes with Israeli security forces in the West Bank and Gaza.

“With their decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel‘s capital, the United States has become a partner in this bloodshed,” President Erdogan said earlier this week.

He had previously described Mr Trump’s decision as a “red line” for Muslims, and threatened to break off diplomatic relations with the US.

The United Nations Security Council is considering a draft resolution that would insist any decisions on the status of Jerusalem have no legal effect and must be rescinded.

It is thought to have broad support, but would likely be vetoed by the US.