Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday announced nebulous plans for his country to build an embassy to an independent Palestinian state in east Jerusalem.
The announcement was part of Turkey’s fit of pique over President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy there. The impact of the announcement was somewhat undermined by Cavusoglu’s stipulation that an independent Palestinian state must be established before Turkey opens its embassy. Opening the embassy immediately and waiting for the state to come along later would have been a much grander gesture.
In fact, Cavusoglu’s full statement amounted to the rather anodyne observation that if an independent Palestinian state is established, many countries will open embassies in east Jerusalem.
Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil likewise signaled a willingness to set up diplomatic shop in east Jerusalem after a Palestinian state is established, offering to trade property in Lebanon with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas so the Palestinians could open a complementary embassy.
“Israel would still have to approve the construction of such a complex,” the Associated Press notes.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Hakan Cavusoglu promised that Turkey will continue to “look out” for Jerusalem as though it were one of Turkey’s own cities.
“As the president said, ‘We shall not turn our backs to this blessed city, which has been the apple of Muslims’ eye for centuries, and deny ourselves.’ We will never deny ourselves. We will look out for Jerusalem just like we do it for Istanbul, Diyarbakır, Bursa, Ankara,” said Cavusoglu, referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The deputy prime minister also complained about an official of Turkey’s development agency “under arrest on false accusations” in Israel and vowed, “History will definitely remember who served humanity and who served hostility.”
The Jerusalem Post clarifies that Cavusoglu was talking about Muhammed Murtaja, a resident of Gaza arrested by the Israeli Shin Bet on charges of “financing Hamas’s military wing.” He was said to be involved in “Hamas terrorist training, exercises, manufacturing weapons and explosive devices and digging attack tunnels.”