Amid scattered protests worldwide and the rhetorical fusilades of Turkey’s president against Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened up Sunday’s cabinet meeting by thanking the Trump administration for “defending Israel's truth.”
Referring to the scheduled arrival in Israel on Wednesday of Vice President Mike Pence, believed to be one of the leading proponents in the administration of the decision to recognize Jerusalem and move the US Embassy there, Netanyahu said the country will “warmly welcome” Pence when he arrives.
The premier’s comments came two days after a top US official said Washington cannot envision any future peace scenario in which the Western Wall is not in Israel’s hands. Pence is slated to visit the Western Wall soon after he arrives Wednesday evening from Egypt for a two-day trip. With that visit to the Wall, Pence will be following on Trump’s lead in May, when he became the first sitting president to visit the site.
“He is a great friend of Israel and a great friend of Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said of Pence.
“I would like to express once again our special appreciation for the determination and leadership of President Trump and his administration in defending Israel’s truth, the firmness with which they reject the attempts to use the UN as a platform against Israel and with general support,” he said.
The US is expected to veto any proposed resolution that may come to the UN Security Council condemning Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem.
Erdogan, meanwhile, continued on Sunday with his vitriolic rhetoric against Israel and Trump’s decision.
Speaking at a meeting of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Karaman, a province in central Anatolia, Erdogan said Turkey hopes to open an embassy in east Jerusalem, following a decision last week by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to recognize east Jerusalem as the capital of “Palestine.”
“We have already declared east Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state but we haven’t been able to open our embassy there because Jerusalem is currently under occupation. God willing we will open our embassy there,” Erdogan said.
Turkey has a consulate in east Jerusalem that for all intents and purposes serves as an “embassy” to the Palestinian Authority, and has done so for years.
“Trump has declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, with an evangelist and Zionist understanding, with the logic of ‘I have done it and it’s over,’” Erdogan said, according to the Hurriyet
newspaper. “Do not attempt to undertake a Zionist operation. If you do, the cost of this will be heavy.”
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim echoed Erdogan, saying at another AKP event, “Those who miscalculate on Jerusalem in this region will eventually regret it.”
Along with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas officials, Erdogan has been the most strident vocal opponent to Trump’s move, something attributed in Jerusalem to efforts on his part to regain the stature he enjoyed in the Arab and Muslim world – but which has since faded – following the 2010 MV Mavi Marmara incident in which he took a confrontational approach to Israel.