Turkey’s Erdoğan pledges to open Turkey embassy in East Jerusalem

Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday said 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 spoke 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 Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Karaman, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Erdoğan, whose policies stand at stark odds with Ankara’s NATO ally the US, was referring to a decision given last week by an extraordinary summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in which he hosted heads of states and ministers from 56 Muslim-majority countries.

US President Donald 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.

Netanyahu addressed Erdoğan’s daily attacks since Trump’s move 11 days ago only once so far, saying last week that he was not to receive “lectures about morality from a leader who bombs Kurdish villages,” in response to the latter’s labeling of Israel as a “terrorist and child-killer state.”

Pro-Kurdish Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Osman Baydemir has called out the Turkish government’s double standards pertaining to Palestine and Kurdistan. Addressing a Saturday meeting in Bitlis, Baydemir criticized President Erdoğan’s daily championship of the Palestinian cause since the beginning of this month and branding its stance as merely “theatrics.”

“You keep saying that Palestine is under occupation, that Palestinians are oppressed. Okay then, how about Kurdistan and the Kurdish People,” Baydemir asked, according to a report by online news portal Kurdistan 24.

“When it comes to the Kurds, you put 96 elected mayors in prison. Here, the very law of occupation, that of colonialism is at work,” he added, giving the number of elected heads of Kurdish municipalities jailed, among them those of Bitlis and its districts by Turkish government.

In his numerous speeches around the country for the last two weeks, Erdoğan has labeled Israel as a “child-killer state of terror and occupation,” stoking nationalistic and religious sentiments against the US and the Jewish state.

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