ANKARA – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Tuesday that his country could sever its diplomatic relations with Israel should the United States decide to recognize Jerusalem as the capital.
Erdogan gave his stark warning during a speech to Parliament in Ankara amid reports that President Donald Trump could unilaterally declare the ancient city of Jerusalem, which is claimed by both the Palestinians and the Israelis, the capital of Israel and transfer the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.
“Jerusalem is a red line for all Muslims. We could arrive at a point when we have to cut our diplomatic relations with Israel if this happens,” he told lawmakers.
Every six months, the US president is required to sign a waiver to explain why the embassy has not been moved to Jerusalem, a scenario that would be preferred by Israel.
Trump, however, has yet to announce that he has signed the latest document – the second of his term – prompting growing speculation that he would make true on a campaign pledge to recognize Jerusalem as the capital, despite international warnings that such a move could jeopardize the Israel-Palestine peace process.
France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, phoned Trump to express his concern over any attempt to change the status of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is a city of contention at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
East Jerusalem was occupied by Israel at the end of the Six-Day War in 1967 but has never been recognized as Israeli territory by the United Nations.