ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin warned on Monday that Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel risks escalating tension in an already tense region.
Trump’s decision and his plan to move the US embassy to Jerusalem sparked violence in Jerusalem, with a fifth day of protests in the Middle East.
“Both Russia and Turkey believe that the decision… does not help regulating the situation in the Middle East but instead destabilises the already complicated atmosphere,” Putin said during a press conference in Ankara.
“It can derail the Israel-Palestine peace process,” he warned after his meeting with Erdogan following lightning visits to Syria and Egypt earlier on Monday.
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”.
“Israel is using this as an opportunity to further increase the pressure and violence against Palestinians,” he added.
Putin earlier in Cairo stressed the importance of “the immediate resumption of Palestinian-Israeli talks over all disputed issues, including the status of Jerusalem”.
– ‘Partner to bloodshed’ –
The Turkish head of state bitterly opposes Trump’s decision and has sought to mobilise the Muslim world against it, calling a summit of Islamic countries on December 13 in Istanbul.
Erdogan, who regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause, said the “struggle” of Muslims would not end until there is an independent Palestinian state.
“They will never be able to clean the blood,” he said in a speech in Ankara.
“With this recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it (the United States) has become a partner to this bloodshed. We do not recognise this decision, we will not,” he added.
Turkey had high hopes for bilateral relations under the Trump presidency, but ties have frayed with rows over the Syria conflict, a New York legal case and now Jerusalem.
Erdogan said that the current “vandalism and cruelty” in Jerusalem would not last. “Those who think they own Jerusalem today will not find trees to hide behind,” he said.
– ‘Turning point’ –
Trump’s move has ignited protests across the Islamic world and deadly violence in the Palestinian territories.
Erdogan said Wednesday’s summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul would be a “turning point” on the issue.
Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had traded verbal blows at the weekend, with the Turkish leader describing Israel as a “terrorist state” that kills children.
Hours later Netanyahu hit back, during a visit to Paris, calling his Turkish counterpart a leader who bombs Kurdish villagers and supports terrorists.
Last year, Turkey and Israel ended a rift triggered by Israel’s 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, particularly in energy, but Erdogan has repeatedly been critical of Israeli policy.