The US has lost its role as mediator in the Middle East by moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in London on Monday.
“With its latest step America has chosen to be a part of the problem, not a solution, and lost its mediator role in the Middle East peace process,” Erdogan told the Chatham House international affairs think tank.
“We are rejecting once again this decision which violates international law and which is against UN resolutions,” he said.
Erdogan called the US embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem “very, very unfortunate” and said it “will increase tensions and ignite an even greater fire between communities.
“The international community must do its part as soon as possible and take swift action to put an end to Israel’s increasing aggression,” he went on. “The establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital is the only way for lasting peace and stability.”
On Sunday, speaking at a dinner organized by the Turken Foundation in London, which aids Turkish students studying abroad, the president said, “Jerusalem — above all, East Jerusalem — is the capital of Palestine. As the Islamic world, we accept it as it is,” Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported.
He said most of the world opposes the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and Trump’s decision to recognize Israel’s capital. He told the audience that 128 nations voted against the move in a United Nations resolution.
He added that those few countries that did vote with the US only did so because of US pressure or promises of financial aid.
"The atmosphere Turken has created for [our students] is one that reflects the warmth of home, so that it is not missed [as they pursue their studies abroad]." – @RT_Erdogan #TurkenUKdinner pic.twitter.com/Xwf4eNIlkF
— TURKEN Foundation UK (@turkenuk) May 13, 2018
Only nine countries — the US, Israel, Togo, Micronesia, Guatemala, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands and Honduras — voted against the December resolution. US envoy Nikki Haley threatened to cut aid to countries that accepted the UN motion.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry invited 86 foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel to a reception on Sunday, the evening before the embassy move. About 40 of them announced their participation, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said Saturday, including Austria, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Hungary, which broke with a European consensus against participating.
Some 800 guests are expected to attend Monday’s embassy inauguration. Representing the US at the opening will be Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, Adviser Ivanka Trump, US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt. US Ambassador David Friedman will preside over the dedication ceremony.
Most European countries have slammed Trump’s move as not in line with international consensus, preferring to wait on recognizing the city until the status of Jerusalem is finalized in talks with the Palestinians.