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US recognition of Jerusalem risks igniting 'fire' in region, warns Turkey

Bekir Bozdag warned that the move would be a "great disaster" [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 6 December, 2017

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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,' Turkey said on Wednesday.
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 on Wednesday.

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, saying the move was a "great disaster" that would lead the way to "turmoil, chaos and clashes."

US President Donald Trump is expected to formally make the announcement on Wednesday, and begin preparations to move the US embassy to the contested city.

Separately, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim slammed the plan as "unlawful".

Speaking from Seoul where he met his South Korean counterpart, Yildirim said: "One way or another, both situations will be unlawful decisions and will make the existing problems in the region even more unsolvable."

The prime minister said a declaration could cause religious clashes and destroy efforts toward formation of a Palestinian state.

"The US president not making a statement in this direction is vital for the future of the region and global peace," Yildirim said.

"Jerusalem is a very delicate subject in the world of Islam. Our biggest expectation and hope on this matter is that no steps are taken. Impositions, wrong steps in this direction would bring along irreversible consequences."

Jerusalem, sacred to Muslims, Christians and Jews is a contentious part of Israel-Palestinian negotiations. The Palestinians see it as the capital of their future state.

On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that the status of the city is a "red line" for Muslims, and that the move could even prompt Turkey to cut ties with Israel.

Erdogan said Turkey, which currently holds the chairmanship of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), would immediately call a summit meeting of the pan-Islamic group if Trump went ahead with the move.

"Mr Trump! Jerusalem is a red line for Muslims," he said in a raucous televised speech to his ruling party that was greeted with chants and applause.

Erdogan said that if such a move was made to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, he would summon a summit of the OIC in Istanbul within five to 10 days "and we would set the entire Islamic world in motion".

As for Turkey, Erdogan said Ankara would "follow this struggle to the very last moment with determination and we could even go right up to cutting our diplomatic relations with Israel".

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 but Erdogan, who regards himself a champion of the Palestinian cause, is still often bitterly critical of Israeli policy.

The United States is a strong supporter of a strong relationship between Turkey, the key Muslim member of NATO, and Israel, which is Washington's main ally in the Middle East.

Agencies contributed to this report

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