Brussels: World leaders on Tuesday warned US President Donald Trump he risked inflaming the Muslim world and jeopardising peace efforts if he recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the US Embassy there.
“Mr Trump! Jerusalem is a red line for Muslims,” Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a raucous televised speech, echoing alarm expressed by Palestinian and Arab leaders.
Jerusalem is one of the most thorny issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with both sides claiming it as their capital. In his address, Erdogan warned that any move to back Israel’s claim to the city would mobilise “the entire Islamic world” and even prompt Ankara to sever its recently-renewed diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.
Most of the international community, including the United States, does not formally recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, insisting the issue can only be resolved in final status negotiations.
And the suggestion that Trump could be poised to reverse years of US policy has prompted a furious bout of Palestinian lobbying, with the armed Islamist Hamas movement threatening to launch a new “intifada” or uprising.
Central to the issue of recognition is the question of the US Embassy.
All foreign embassies are located in Tel Aviv with consular representation in Jerusalem. Trump had been expected on Monday to decide whether to sign a legal waiver that would delay by six months plans to move the US Embassy.
“No action though will be taken on the waiver today and we will declare a decision on the waiver in the coming days,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said. But he insisted the move would eventually happen.
“The president has been clear on this issue from the get-go: It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”
Following talks in Brussels with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, top EU diplomat Federica Mogherini warned that any move which risked undermining efforts to jumpstart the moribund peace talks “must absolutely be avoided”.