US’ Jerusalem move may trigger new clashes in region: Erdoğan

A potential U.S. move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital may cause indignation in the Islamic world and lead to new clashes in the region, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Dec. 6.

“Any such false step may cause indignation in the Islamic world, dynamiting the ground for peace and igniting new tensions and clashes,” Erdoğan said on Dec. 6, speaking at a joint press conference with the King of Jordan Abdullah II.

“We are also inviting Israel to follow policies that will contribute to peace and security,” he added.

Turkey shares the same sentiment as Jordan regarding the preservation of the holiness and historical status of Jerusalem, Erdoğan said, warning that the U.S.’s potential Jerusalem move could “play into hands of terror groups.”

There have been many historical examples of suffering caused when Jerusalem’s special religious structure was not respected, the president stated, stressing that Jerusalem, home of the al-Aqsa Mosque complex, is of huge importance for all Muslims.

Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member state leaders will convene for an extraordinary meeting in Istanbul on Dec. 13 in order to present joint action on the move, Erdoğan also said.

“Every step that ignores Palestinian rights, which have been endorsed many times by U.N. resolutions, is very heavy one, struck against the ideal of living together for people belonging to different religions, he added.

For his part, King Abdullah said sensitive current regional developments require “close coordinated consultations” and Turkey and Jordan both agree that the Palestinian cause continues to be the region’s “central issue.”

“There is no alternative to the two-state solution and Jerusalem is key to any peace agreement. It is key to the stability of the entire region,” he said.

“I re-emphasize to the U.S. president yesterday our concerns on the decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Therefore it is imperative now to work fast to reach a final status solution and a peace agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis. This must allow the Palestinians to establish their independent state, side by side with Israel and with its capital in East Jerusalem,” King Abdullah said.

Ignoring Palestinian Muslim and Christian rights in Jerusalem will only fuel further extremism and undermine the war against terrorism, he added.

“We are both in full agreement on the need for holding an OIC summit on Jerusalem next week that would bring together Arabs and Muslim leaders,” he also said.

 

US should correct ‘grave mistake’

Meanwhile, Turkish Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said on Dec. 6 that the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is against international conventions and U.N. decisions, and will amount to a “grave mistake.”

Washington should “immediately turn away from this grave mistake that will virtually eliminate the fragile Middle East peace process,” Kalın told reporters at a press conference.

He said President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was holding phone conversations with heads of states regarding the issue. State-run Anadolu Agency said Erdoğan was in contact with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Tunisian President Mohamed Beji Caid Essebsi, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Kalın reiterated Erdoğan’s statement that Jerusalem is a “red line” for Muslims, adding that Ankara welcomes the messages given by King Saudi Arabia in a telephone conversation with Trump yesterday.

During his election campaign last year, Trump repeatedly promised to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Jerusalem remains at the core of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem – currently occupied by Israel – might eventually serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Meanwhile, Kalın also stated that Erdoğan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently discussed the situation of Adil Öksüz, a fugitive key suspect in connection to Turkey’s July 2016 coup attempt who is believed to be in Germany.

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