Turkey, Palestine threaten to cut Israel ties over Jerusalem move

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Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian man (L) during clashes at the entrance of the northern village of Qusra in the occupied West Bank near Nablus. — AFP

Ankara — Turkey and the Palestinians warned on Tuesday of dire diplomatic repercussions if President Donald Trump goes ahead with a possible recognition of the hotly contested city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told parliament that his country's response "could go as far as us cutting diplomatic ties with Israel."

"Mr. Trump! Jerusalem is a red line for Muslims," Erdogan said in a televised speech to his ruling party, warning that if such a move was taken Turkey would call a summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

A senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned that the Palestinian leadership could halt contacts with US counterparts in response to such recognition.

American officials have said Trump may recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital this week as a way to offset his likely decision to delay his campaign promise of moving the US Embassy there. Trump's point-man on the Middle East, son-in-law Jared Kushner, later said the president hasn't decided yet what steps to take regarding Jerusalem.

Still, the possibility of such recognition has triggered mounting criticism and opposition by Muslim and Arab states.

The Arab League with almost two dozen member states was to discuss the controversy later Tuesday.

On Monday, the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, which has 57 member states, said US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital would constitute "naked aggression."

Majdi Khaldi, the diplomatic adviser of Abbas, said recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital could destroy Washington's role as mediator between Israelis and Palestinians.

"If the Americans recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, then this would mean they decided, on their own, to distance themselves from efforts to make peace and that they will have no credibility or role in this issue," Khaldi told The Associated Press in perhaps the most sharply worded comments yet by a senior Palestinian official.

"We will stop our contacts with them (in the event of recognition) because such a step goes against our existence and against the fate of our cause," Khaldi said. "It targets Muslims and Christians alike."

In Cairo, Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit warned Tuesday of the "danger" of the United States recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital or relocating its embassy there, calling on Washington to reconsider.

Abul Gheit told delegates of member states that they had decided to meet in Cairo "given the danger of this matter, if it were to happen, and the possible negative consequences not only for the situation in Palestine but also for the Arab and Islamic region".

"Successive American presidents since 1980 have realized its importance and the extent it threatens regional stability," he said.

"This decision would end the US role as a trusted mediator between the Palestinians and the (Israeli) occupying forces."

US President Donald Trump on Monday delayed a decision on the highly contentious issue -- a crucial question in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- after public warnings from allies and private phonecalls between world leaders.

Trump has yet to make his final decision, US officials have said, but he is now expected to stop short of moving the embassy to Jerusalem -- though he may still recognize the city as Israel's capital.

Gheit said on Tuesday that the United States should not take any measures that would alter Jerusalem's legal and political status. — Agencies


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