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Erdogan says he'd cut Israel ties if Trump acts on Jerusalem
[ISTANBUL] Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to cut ties with Israel should US President Donald Trump recognise Jerusalem as its capital, portending the backlash the move would likely cause in Muslim-majority nations.
"Mr Trump, Jerusalem is a red line for Muslims," Mr Erdogan said in a speech at parliament in Ankara on Tuesday. "This could lead us to break off our diplomatic relations with Israel."
Mr Trump had been expected to signal his intention Monday, when he was due to decide whether to renew his signature on a waiver to keep the US embassy in Tel Aviv. But no action was made public, and a White House spokesman said an announcement would be made in the coming days.
The decision is fraught with religious and political implications with Jerusalem, home to some of the holiest ancient sites in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, also claimed by Palestinians as the capital of a future state.
Relations between Turkey and Israel, whose alliance was once a bulwark of the US's Middle East security posture, have deteriorated as Mr Erdogan moved to redefine his country as a Muslim power and became a fierce critic of Israeli policies in the region. The two countries broke off ties after 2010, when Israeli soldiers raided a Turkish ship trying to break the embargo on the Gaza Strip. Nine Turks were killed on board and a 10th died later. The countries reestablished formal diplomatic relations last year.
"Israel must advance its goals, including the recognition of a united Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel," Israel's education minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement. "At the end of the day, it is better to have a united Jerusalem than Erdogan's sympathy."
Other signs of displeasure with Mr Trump's reported intentions came from Saudi Arabia and France.
The Saudis on Tuesday called the expected move "unjustified" US bias that disrupts efforts to revive peace talks, and cautioned it could have "grave consequences". French president Emmanuel Macron told Mr Trump on Monday that the prospect of a unilateral declaration concerned him, and said the city's status must be resolved through peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party has called for demonstrations across the West Bank and Arab world if Mr Trump recognises Jerusalem as Israel's capital.