Turkey, Lebanon eye embassies to Palestine in East Jerusalem
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Turkey, Lebanon eye embassies to Palestine in East Jerusalem

Ankara says it will make move only when world recognizes Palestinian state, while Beirut discusses territory swap to house missions

Pro-palestinians protesters chant slogans against US and Israel as they wave Turkish and Palestinians' flags on December 10, 2017 during a demonstration in Istanbul. (AFP PHOTO / YASIN AKGUL)
Pro-palestinians protesters chant slogans against US and Israel as they wave Turkish and Palestinians' flags on December 10, 2017 during a demonstration in Istanbul. (AFP PHOTO / YASIN AKGUL)

The Turkish and Lebanese foreign ministers announced in statements on Thursday their respective governments’ intentions to open embassies for the Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

Their statements came against the backdrop of US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the city as Israel’s capital, which has drawn sharp criticism from Muslim countries.

Turkey’s top diplomat, Mevlut Cavusoglu, specified that Ankara only plans to make the move once the world recognizes an independent Palestinian state. He said there was “serious determination” among countries that have not yet recognized Palestine to do so.

“Once we succeed, embassies will open in the independent Palestinian state’s capital, East Jerusalem,” he asserted.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said he had informed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of Beirut’s willingness to establish a Lebanese embassy in East Jerusalem.

In a tweet, Bassil said he spoke with Abbas over the phone and he said that the two governments discussed exchanging territory to provide for the establishment of embassies.

Abbas “promised to act quickly to provide property for Lebanon in East Jerusalem,” Bassil wrote .

Israel would still have to approve the construction of such a complex.

In an address last week from the White House, Trump insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace, a new approach was long overdue. He described his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.

The move was hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum, but elicited rage in the Arab world.

Israel sees the entire city as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians want its eastern neighborhoods, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed, as the capital of their future state.

Turkey has been one of the most vocal critics of Trump’s declaration. On Wednesday, Ankara hosted a meeting of 57 Muslim nations that rejected the decision and called for recognition of a Palestinian state whose capital is East Jerusalem.

In Lebanon, massive demonstrations were held against Trump’s decision, including one led by the Hezbollah terror group. Its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said his group was wrapping up fighting in Syria and would turn its attention to fighting Israel.

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