Washington’s potential recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel could prompt the cutting of Turkey’s diplomatic relations with Israel, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Dec. 5.
“This could go as far as cutting our diplomatic relations with Israel. You cannot take such a step,” Erdoğan told a parliamentary group meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“Mr. Trump! Jerusalem is a red line for Muslims,” he said, adding that Ankara would take necessary measures in the event of a possible U.S. move, including convening the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul.
Such a move would not only be a violation of international law, but also “a big blow to the conscience of humanity,” Erdoğan said.
“Has the U.S. completed everything and only this is left?” he added.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon hit back at the Turkish president, saying Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital for 70 years, “whether Erdoğan recognizes it or not.”
Israeli Minister of Intelligence and Transport Israel Katz took to Twitter to reiterate Israel’s position on the ancient city, which is one of a long list of stumbling blocks in years of failed peace talks with the Palestinians.
“We don’t take orders or accept threats from the president of Turkey,” Katz tweeted.
“There would be no more righteous or proper an historical move now than recognizing Jerusalem, the Jewish people’s capital for the past 3,000 years, as the capital of the State of Israel,” he added.
Last year, Turkey and Israel finally ended a rift triggered by Israel’s deadly storming in 2010 of a Gaza-bound ship that left 10 Turkish activists dead and led to a downgrading of diplomatic ties.
The two sides have since stepped up cooperation in particular in energy but Erdoğan, who regards himself a champion of the Palestinian cause, is still often bitterly critical of Israeli policy.
The exchange of words comes after President Donald Trump said Washington may recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital this week as a way to offset his likely decision to delay his campaign promise of moving the U.S. Embassy there. Trump’s point-man on the Middle East, son-in-law Jared Kushner, later said the president has not yet decided on what steps to take regarding Jerusalem.
ISIL members to deploy in Sinai desert
Meanwhile, President Erdoğan reiterated his criticism of the U.S. for its strategy in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria, where Washington has been cooperating with the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara see as offshoots of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“Against whom will the U.S. use the truckloads of weapons massed on our borders. Against DAESH? There is no DAESH there anymore. Against Syria? No, they are now in the same coalition. Iraq? No, they have already invaded there. They will use them against Iran, Turkey or Russia if they dare,” Erdoğan said, referring to weapons supplied to the YPG in the anti-ISIL campaign.
“No one can lecture Turkey on the war against DAESH because Turkey is the only NATO member directly fighting the terrorist group,” he said.
Erdoğan also slammed the recent evacuation deal struck between ISIL militants and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), saying these figures will later be used elsewhere to disrupt stability in the Middle East.
“DAESH militants that were set free in the Raqqa operation will be deployed in the deserts of Sinai in Egypt. They will serve there from now on and we [Turkey] will be monitoring this,” he said.
Jordanian King Abdullah to visit Turkey
It was also announced on Dec. 5 that Jordan’s King Abdullah II will visit Turkey on Dec. 6, upon an invitation from President Erdoğan. According to the presidential press office, King Abdullah’s visit will mark the 70th anniversary of the start of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Jordan.
During his meetings, King Abdullah is expected to evaluate political, economic, military and cultural relations between the two countries, as well as the issues of Palestine, the status of Jerusalem, Syria, Iraq and the latest developments in the region.