Turkey: Oh yeah? Well maybe we'll move our embassy to the other side of Jerusalem

The President’s decision to move the United States embassy in Israel to Jerusalem lit any number of rhetorical fires around the world. The Palestinians were so upset that they actually called for the United Nations to take over as moderators of the peace talks. (Not gonna happen, guys.) We don’t know when (or some might even say if) the embassy move is going to happen, but yet another hot take on the subject has popped up in Ankara. The Tyrant of Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, sent out word that they might pull a tit-for-tat maneuver and move the Turkish embassy to East Jerusalem in response. (Reuters)

Turkey intends to open an embassy in East Jerusalem, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday, days after leading calls at a summit of Muslim leaders for the world to recognize it as the capital of Palestine.

It was not clear how he would carry out the move, as Israel controls all of Jerusalem and calls the city its indivisible capital. Palestinians want the capital of a future state they seek to be in East Jerusalem, which Israel took in a 1967 war and later annexed in a move not recognized internationally.

The Muslim nation summit was a response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s Dec. 6 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. His move broke with decades of U.S. policy and international consensus that the city’s status must be left to Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

Any time you start dragging East Jerusalem into the conversation everyone on both sides of the peace talks begins to get nervous. That’s the portion which was still held by Jordan after the Arab-Israeli War near the end of the 40s. Some of the most revered locations of three major religions are there, including the Temple Mount, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall. For the Muslims, it’s also the location of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Israel took control of the region after the Six-Day War in 1967, but have generously kept it open for pilgrimages and other holy rituals by members of all religions. Still, it’s been a sore spot for the Muslims for a long time.

But the fact is, Israel does hold it. How Erdogan thinks he’s going to go about setting up an embassy there and preemptively declaring it the capital of Palestine is something of a mystery. If Israel doesn’t want to see that happen they would be able to shut down such a move. Unfortunately, rather than bringing anyone closer to peace, that could push the region closer to open warfare and other Muslim nations might feel obliged to dig in their heels on the side of Turkey.

Erdogan is claiming that the U.S. move to recognize Jerusalem as the Eternal Capital of Israel was damaging to the peace process. If this is Erdogan’s “solution” to that problem he has a very curious idea of what the word means. If anything, this idea is simply beating the drums of war. But perhaps these ideas are rooted in Erdogan’s rather curious sense of history.

Here’s one more example for you to consider. Last month, during a conference of Latin American Muslim leaders held in Istanbul, the Turkish president announced that Muslims actually discovered America three hundred years before Christopher Columbus.

Mr Erdogan also said “Muslim sailors arrived in America in 1178”.

He said he was willing to build a mosque at the site Columbus identified.

The Turkish president – whose AK Party is rooted in political Islam – gave no further evidence to back up his theory, instead stating: “Contacts between Latin America and Islam date back to the 12th Century.”

There’s an interesting theory for you. I’ve heard a few odd ones in the past, including a claim that Egyptians were visiting Australia thousands of years ago on a regular basis. Could be. Anything so deep in the past is hard to rule out entirely. But if Muslims were in Cuba in the 12th century they certainly didn’t leave much of a footprint.