Ankara says it's "concerned" over Czech Republic's opening of a diplomatic office in occupied Jerusalem, saying the decision serves the bids to erode the position of the holy city "whose international status is guaranteed by UN resolutions."

Czech PM Andrej Babis (right), Israeli FM Gabi Ashkenazi, centre left, and Israeli Public Security Minister Amir Ohana unveil a sign at new  diplomatic office of Czech Republic in Jerusalem on March 11, 2021.
Czech PM Andrej Babis (right), Israeli FM Gabi Ashkenazi, centre left, and Israeli Public Security Minister Amir Ohana unveil a sign at new diplomatic office of Czech Republic in Jerusalem on March 11, 2021. (AP)

Turkey has voiced its concern over the Czech Republic's decision to open a diplomatic office in occupied Jerusalem, saying it serves the attempts to erode the status of the city which is "one of the main parametres of the Palestine-Israel conflict."

"We are concerned that the Czech Republic opened a diplomatic office in Jerusalem whose international status is guaranteed by UN resolutions," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday. 

"The move would serve the attempts to erode the status of Jerusalem, one of the main parameters of the Palestine-Israel conflict," it said.

Turkey called on all members of the international community to respect the historical and legal status of Jerusalem and the international criterions for a fair, comprehensive and lasting solution to the conflict.

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Israel's vaccine diplomacy 

In a controversial decision, the Czech Republic on Thursday opened a diplomatic office in Jerusalem, affiliated to its embassy in Tel Aviv.

The inauguration was attended by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, two weeks after Israel sent 5,000 Moderna Covid-19 vaccine doses to the Czech Republic under a "vaccine diplomacy" programme that later came under legal scrutiny and was frozen.

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'Violation of international law'

The Palestinian Authority and the Arab League also condemned the decision as a violation of international law. 

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry called Prague's decision "a blatant attack on the Palestinian people and their rights, a flagrant violation of international law," and said it would harm peace prospects.

In Cairo, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in a statement: "The legal status of Jerusalem will be affected by the decision of one country or another to open representative offices. East Jerusalem is an occupied land under the International law."

Underlining that the office was not an embassy, the Czech Foreign Ministry said it was meant to strengthen Prague's strategic partnership with Israel and improve services for Czech citizens there.

"The establishment of the office has no impact on the will of the Czech Republic to further develop political and economic relations with the Palestinian Authority," it said.

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Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Jerusalem's status is one of the thorniest issues in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel annexed the eastern part of the city in a move not recognised internationally, and regards all of Jerusalem as its capital.

The Palestinians seek East Jerusalem, which was  illegally captured by Israel along with the West Bank and Gaza enclave in the 1967 Middle East War, as the capital of a future independent state.

Israel has been trying to convince world countries to transfer their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

European Union member states have refused to move their embassies to Jerusalem pending a final agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians on the issue of the holy city.

Among EU states, only Hungary has a diplomatic office in Jerusalem.

With the exception of the US and Guatemala, countries worldwide have declined to shift embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, while Kosovo has committed to open an embassy in Jerusalem after it established diplomatic ties with Israel in February.

Only two countries have full embassies in Jerusalem: the United States – after former US President Donald Trump broke with decades of US policy to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – and Guatemala.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies