US recognition of Jerusalem risks igniting ‘fire’ in region: Turkey

ISTANBUL (AFP) – The expected US move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel risks igniting a “fire” in the Middle East and will prove a “great disaster”, the Turkish government said yesterday.

The recognition will “throw the region and the world into a fire and it’s not known when it will end,” Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Bekir Bozdag wrote on Twitter.

He warned that the move was a “great disaster for everyone” that would lead the way to “turmoil, chaos and clashes” and could produce “unpleasant things that we have not foreseen”.

The recognition of the city as Israel’s capital and the moving of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – expected to be announced by US President Donald Trump later in the day – showed “great intolerance and mindlessness,” Bozdag said.

Bozdag added that the recognition would “destroy the peace process”, saying that the issue of Jerusalem was the key to peace in the Middle East and the world.

Palestinians hold posters of US President Donald Trump during a protest in Bethlehem, West Bank on December 6. President Trump forged ahead on Tuesday with plans to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital despite intense opposition to a move that would upend decades of US policy and risk potentially violent protests. – AP

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Brussels ahead of meeting US counterpart Rex Tillerson that the move is a “mistake” that “will not bring stability and peace but rather chaos and instability”.

Asked whether he would bring the issue up with Tillerson, the minister said, “I have already told him and I will tell him again.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to hold talks later in Ankara with Jordanian King Abdullah II who is also a strong opponent of the move.

Last year, Turkey and Israel ended a rift triggered by Israel’s deadly storming in 2010 of a Gaza-bound ship that left 10 Turkish activists dead and led to a downgrading of diplomatic ties.

The two sides have since stepped up cooperation in particular in energy. The United States supports a strong relationship between Turkey and Israel.