Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday lashed out at his US counterpart Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, saying it would put the region in a “ring of fire.”
“Taking this type of step puts the world, especially the region, in a ring of fire. Hey Trump, what do you want to do? What kind of approach is this? Political leaders do not stir things up, they seek to make peace,” Erdogan said at Esenboga Airport in Ankara as he was about to depart for a visit to Greece.
Erdogan had earlier threatened to sever diplomatic ties with Israel if the president recognized Jerusalem as the capital.
The Turkish president had said that his country, which currently holds the chairmanship of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, would immediately call a summit meeting of the pan-Islamic group if Trump went ahead with the move on Wednesday, and would “set the entire Islamic world in motion.”
“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.
Trump’s defiant move — making good on a pledge made during his 2016 presidential campaign — ends seven decades of US ambiguity on the status of the Holy City, which is vociferously claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians.
Trump said this marks the start of a “new approach” to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital,” he said in a White House speech on Wednesday.
“It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” he said, urging calm and “the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate.”
But immediately the move sparked anger among Palestinians and their supporters.
Overnight Israeli police arrested 10 masked youths suspected of throwing Molotov cocktails from the Arab neighborhood of Issawiya onto the road connecting the capital to the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. The firebombs didn’t cause any injuries or damage.
On Wednesday and Thursday in Gaza, hundreds of Palestinian protesters burned American and Israeli flags and waved Palestinian flags and banners proclaiming Jerusalem as “our eternal capital” and calling recognition of it as Israel’s capital a “red line.” Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, called for more protests over the coming days.
Trump’s announcement was met with hostility and anger throughout the Muslim world.
Saudi Arabia’s royal court, led by King Salman and his powerful son, condemned the Trump administration decision, describing it “unjustified and irresponsible.”
In Iraq, the government urged Trump to retract his decision.
“We caution against the dangerous repercussions of this decision on the stability of the region and the world,” it said, Reuters news agency reported.
“The US administration has to backtrack on this decision to stop any dangerous escalation that would fuel extremism and create conditions favorable to terrorism,” it said.
Indonesian president Joko Widodo, who leads the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country, said he “condemned” Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, and ordered the US ambassador in Jakarta to be summoned over the move.
“Indonesia strongly condemns the United States’ one-sided recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and asks the US to reconsider this decision,” Widodo said in televised remarks.