Putin says US Jerusalem move may ‘finish prospects’ for peace deal
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Putin says US Jerusalem move may ‘finish prospects’ for peace deal

Speaking alongside Russian leader, Turkey's Erdogan claims Israel has used Trump decision to 'ramp up oppression against Palestinians'

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, shakes hands with Russia's President Vladimir Putin, left, following their joint news statement after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, on Dec. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, shakes hands with Russia's President Vladimir Putin, left, following their joint news statement after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, on Dec. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, warning that it could destabilize the region and derail the Middle East peace process.

Speaking Monday after a hectic day that took him from a Russian base in Syria to Cairo to Ankara, Putin said the US move “doesn’t help the Mideast settlement and, just the other way round, destabilizes the already difficult situation in the region.”

The Russian leader added that it may “finish prospects for the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.”

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin listens during a joint news statement with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, following their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, on December 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

He added that Moscow believes that the status of Jerusalem should be settled through talks between the Palestinians and Israel in line with United Nations resolutions.

Earlier, in Cairo, Putin stressed the importance of “the immediate resumption of Palestinian-Israeli talks over all disputed issues, including the status of Jerusalem.”

Speaking alongside Putin at a joint press conference in Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he and Putin had taken a similar approach on the issue as he accused Israel of continuing to “add fuel to the flames” and using US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “as an opportunity to ramp up oppression against Palestinians,” according to the pro-government Daily Sabah.

He also claimed “the number of Palestinians injured by Israeli forces is now over 2,000,” without providing any proof for his assertion.

Erdogan has hit out repeatedly at Israel with increasing vitriol since Trump’s announcement last week, leading Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to call Turkey’s president a brutal dictator who supports Palestinian terrorist groups in their efforts to “kill innocent people.”

“I am not used to receiving lectures about morality from a leader who bombs Kurdish villagers in his native Turkey, who jails journalists, who helps Iran get around international sanctions, and who helps terrorists, including in Gaza, kill innocent people,” Netanyahu said at a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

“That is not the man who is going to lecture us,” he added.

Israel has long pressed Turkey to end its support for Hamas and not allow Hamas members to live in Turkey.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks during a joint press conference with the EU foreign policy chief, at the European Council in Brussels on December 11, 2017. (AFP Photo/Emmanuel Dunand)

A spokesman for Erdogan later hit back at Netanyahu over the remarks, while the Turkish leader extended his criticism to the United States on Monday, accusing it of becoming a “partner in bloodshed.”

Erdogan has sought to spearhead the Islamic reaction to the US declaration on Jerusalem and has used his position as the current chairman of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to call a summit on Wednesday of the pan-Islamic group.

Although Israel long enjoyed close security and intelligence with Turkey, relations have soured since Erdogan become prime minister in 2003 and reached a nadir following the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla raid, in which nine Turkish activists were killed after attacking Israeli commandos who boarded their ship, which was trying to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.

Israel has since apologized and pledged to pay reparations to the families of the deceased.

The two countries only last year restored diplomatic relations after years of frozen diplomatic ties in the wake of the flotilla incident.

They have since stepped up cooperation, particularly in energy, but Erdogan has repeatedly been bitterly critical of Israeli policy.

Last week he warned that Turkey’s reaction “could go as far as” cutting relations with Israel, but has not repeated the threat in recent speeches.

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