Erdogan says Turkey will open embassy in East Jerusalem

Turkey intends to open an embassy in East Jerusalem, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday, as the UN planned a vote asking U.S. President Trump to reconsider his decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

UN Security Council to vote Monday on resolution calling for reversal of U.S. embassy decision

An Israeli police officer stands outside the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv. (Nir Elias/Reuters)

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

It was not clear how he would carry out the move, as Israel effectively controls most of Jerusalem and calls the city its indivisible capital. Palestinians want the capital of a future state they seek to be in East Jerusalem, which Israel took in a 1967 war and later annexed in a move not recognized internationally.

The Muslim nation summit was a response to U.S. President Donald Trump's Dec. 6 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. His move broke with decades of U.S. policy and international consensus that the city's status must be left to Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

The UN Security Council is due to vote on Monday on a draft resolution calling for the withdrawal of Trump's decision, diplomats said, a move likely to face a Washington veto.

Erdogan said in a speech to members of his AK Party in the southern province of Karaman that Turkey's consulate general in Jerusalem was already represented by an ambassador.

"God willing, the day is close when officially, with God's permission, we will open our embassy there," Erdogan said.

Jerusalem, revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, is home to Islam's revered sites the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque as well as Judaism's Western Wall — both in the eastern sector — and has been at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades.

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

A communique issued after Wednesday's summit of more than 50 Muslim countries, including U.S. allies, said they considered Trump's move to be a declaration that Washington was withdrawing from its role "as sponsor of peace" in the Middle East. ​

Security Council vote

The one-page Egyptian-drafted text before the UN Security Council, seen by Reuters, does not specifically mention the United States or Trump. Diplomats say it has broad support among the 15-member council, and while it is unlikely to be adopted, the vote will further isolate Trump on the issue.

To pass, a resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by the United States, France, Britain, Russia or China.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has praised Trump's decision as "the just and right thing to do."

The U.S. mission to the United Nations was not immediately available to comment on Sunday.

Arab foreign ministers agreed to seek a UN Security Council resolution on the issue. The draft UN text expresses "deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem."

It "affirms that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council."

The draft also calls upon all countries to refrain from establishing diplomatic missions in Jerusalem.