May 16 2018

Domestic politics drove U.S. Jerusalem embassy move, says Turkish diplomat

The United States announced its controversial decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognising the city as Israel’s capital, for domestic political reasons, said Turkish Ambassador to Washington Serdar Kılıç.

Kılıç made the statements, reported in Russian new site Sputnik, after being called back to Turkey for consultation with the Turkish foreign ministry after Israeli armed forces killed 58 protesting Palestinians on Monday, as U.S. and Israeli officials gathered for the new embassy’s opening ceremony.

“It was clear this day would come. Our president, foreign minister, and we at the embassy in Washington all warned our interlocutors in the United States, but they made the decision with domestic political motives in mind,” said Kılıç.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan came out as a strong critic of the decision after his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump announced it last December. Erdoğan called an extraordinary summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that month to reject the U.S. decision, and repeated his condemnation of the policy during his visit to the UK on Monday.

“A human tragedy has been ongoing since Monday,” said Kılıç, adding that the U.S. decision did not befit strategic thinking, regional history, or the importance of Jerusalem for the three religions which call it a holy city.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are still scheduled to meet on Jun. 24, Kılıç said.