Turkish president says Jerusalem 'red line', could cut Turkey-Israel ties

The status of Jerusalem is a "red line" for Muslims and could even prompt Turkey to cut ties with Israel, Turkish President Erdoğan said
Tuesday, 05 December 2017 21:13

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday Turkey could go as far as breaking off diplomatic ties with Israel if the United States formally recognises Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, a move he said would be a "red line" for Muslims.

U.S. officials have said Trump is likely to give a speech on Wednesday unilaterally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly promised to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. 

"I am saddened by the reports that the U.S. is getting ready to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Mr. Trump, Jerusalem is a red line for Muslims," Erdoğan told a parliamentary group meeting of his ruling AKP party. 

"It is a violation of international law to take a decision supporting Israel while Palestinian society's wounds are still bleeding," he added.

"Such a decision will be a heavy blow for all mankind. We will not leave it. We will fight to the end. We may even reach severance of diplomatic relations with Israel. I once again warn the United States not to take steps that will further deepen the crisis in the region," Erdoğan said.

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 Education Minister Naftali Bennett, a senior partner in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government, brushed off Erdoğan's comments. "There will always be those who criticize, but at the end of the day it is better to have a united Jerusalem than Erdoğan's sympathy," he said.