Deputies from ruling AKP of Turkey’s Erdoğan vote against bill at PACE deploring Trump’s Jerusalem move

Two deputies of the Turkey’s Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP), which is led by Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan voted on Thursday against a pro-Palestinian resolution at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). The resolution has deplored the declaration of the US President Donald Trump on Jerusalem and underlined “the status of Jerusalem should be decided by common agreement between Israel & Palestine.”

Orhan Miroğlu and Cemalattin Kani Torun, two deputies from Turkey’s ruling AKP, and Zuhal Topcu, a  deputy from Erdoğan’s ultra-nationalist ally Devlet Bahçeli’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), voted against Jerusalem resolution and thus they have effectively endorsed US President Trump controversial decision on Jerusalem. However, the Jerusalem resolution at the PACE was approved in a landslide with 95 “yes” votes against 15 “no” votes.

On contrary to choice of the two AKP deputies and a deputy from his ally MHP, President Erdoğan had said that Turkey would open an embassy in the eastern sector of Jerusalem, as a response to US recognition of the city as Israel’s capital. However, Erdoğan had spoken cautiously about the prospects of delivering that promise anytime soon, pointing out East Jerusalem remained under Israeli occupation along with the rest of the West Bank.

“We cannot open it now. We already declared it as Palestine’s capital. God willing, that day is near, we will open our embassy there,” Erdoğan told a provincial convention of his ruling AKP in Karaman in mid-December 2017.

The PACE’s Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy reiterated last week its support for a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the 1967 borders, which could be accompanied by limited land swap, as has been accepted by the Arab countries.

The resolution has stated that “The Assembly regrets the declaration of the President of the United States of America on 6 December 2017 that it was ‘time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel’ and that preparations would start ‘to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.’ At the same time, the Assembly notes that in the same declaration, the US President stated that the United States was ‘not taking a position of any final status issues’ and underlined that ‘those questions are up to the parties involved,’ and that ‘the United States would support a two-State solution if agreed to by both sides.”

The resolution has also stated that “The Parliamentary Assembly recalls its Resolution 1940 (2013) on the situation in the Middle East, where it ‘reiterates its support for a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the 1967 borders, which, in view of the new realities on the ground, could be accompanied by limited land swap, as has recently been accepted by the Arab countries.’ It adds that Jerusalem could well become the capital of both the State of Israel and the future Palestinian State, as a result of direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.”

“The role of the United States as a serious broker in the peace process was undoubtedly undermined by the declaration of its President on Jerusalem. Its future role should be based on a renewed attitude of neutrality in the peace process. In this context, Europe should play a major role in the sponsorship and resumption of the peace process,” stated the resolution.

“The city of Jerusalem has religious and historic significance for the people of the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Jerusalem is not and should never become the property of one single group of people and its status should be decided by common agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” stated the resolution.

Trump’s authorization of the State Department to move the American embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has flared tensions, albeit so far only in rhetoric, between Erdoğan’s Turkey and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration. Despite repeated diplomatic and rhetorical confrontations during much of the last decade, the two Mediterranean nations maintain decades-old robust commercial and military ties.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s controversial Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) will host an international meeting in İstanbul focusing on Jerusalem and its iconic Al-Aqsa Mosque, the authority announced on Saturday.

The meeting on “Jerusalem: The City Blessed by Revelation” will draw attention to the importance of Jerusalem in the Islamic faith and work to keep alive solidarity with the Palestinian people as well as promote the cause of Al-Aqsa, the Religious Affairs Directorate said in a written statement. The meeting on Jan. 29-30 will include representatives from 20 countries, including Pakistan, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Britain, France, Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda, the statement said.

Around 70 Muslim scholars and researchers will also take part in the event. Two panels will be held on “The Muslim Identity of Jerusalem” and “The Experience of Co-Existence: The Example of Jerusalem,” said the statement.

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