Middle East on Edge Ahead of Possible Change to US Policy on Jerusalem

Criticism of President Donald Trump’s reported plan to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is pouring in from across the Middle East, Europe and around the world.

One of the strongest statements of opposition to such a plan came from key NATO ally Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan Tuesday.

Erdogan told a parliamentary group meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), “This could go as far as cutting our diplomatic relations with Israel. You cannot take such a step.”

He described Jerusalem as a “red line” for Muslims and said Ankara would take measures in the event of a possible U.S. move, including convening the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul. Such recognition by the U.S. not only would be a violation of international law but also would be “a big blow to the conscience of the humanity,” Erdogan said. He warned of serious diplomatic consequences if Washington proceeded with the move.

Israeli officials in turn criticized Erdogan’s remarks. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted a senior Israeli official as saying, “Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital for 3,000 years and the capital of Israel for 70 years, whether Turkish President Erdogan recognizes it as such or not.”

The status of Jerusalem is at the epicenter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the Palestinians backed by the rest of the Arab and Islamic world. Israel regards the entire city as its indivisible capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

‘Grave consequences’

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has asked other world leaders to intervene, saying “such a U.S. decision would destroy the peace process.” In his phone call with Trump, Abbas said he relayed to the U.S. president “the grave consequences of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem or making any announcement that alters the long-held U.S. policy regarding Jerusalem.”

Source: Voice of America