Arab Warnings Mount Over Trump’s Jerusalem Declaration

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -

Turkey threatened on Tuesday to cut diplomatic ties with Israel if President Donald Trump recognizes Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, joining a mounting chorus of voices saying the move would unleash turmoil.

Senior U.S. officials told Reuters some officers in the State Department were also deeply concerned and the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia and the Arab League all warned any such announcement would have repercussions across the region.

A senior U.S. official told Reuters last week that Trump was likely to make the announcement on Wednesday, though his adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner said on Sunday no final decision had been made.

Such a decision would break with decades of U.S. policy that Jerusalem’s status must be decided in negotiations.

“Mr. Trump, Jerusalem is the red line of Muslims,” Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan told a parliamentary meeting of his ruling AK Party.

“This can go as far as severing Turkey’s ties with Israel. I am warning the United States not to take such a step which will deepen the problems in the region.”

Minister Yisrael Katz took to Twitter to reject Turkey’s threat and reiterate Israel’s position on the ancient city, which is one of a long list of stumbling blocks in years of failed peace talks with the Palestinians.

“We don’t take orders or accept threats from the president of Turkey,” he wrote

“There would be no more righteous or proper an historical move now than recognizing Jerusalem, the Jewish people’s capital for the past 3,000 years, as the capital of the State of Israel.”

Two U.S. officials said on condition of anonymity that news of the plan to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital had kicked up resistance from the State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs bureau (NEA), which deals with the region.

“Senior (officials) in NEA and a number of ambassadors from the region expressed their deep concern about doing this,” said one official, saying that the concerns focused on “security.”

The State Department referred questions to the White House. The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A fourth U.S. official said the consensus U.S. intelligence estimate on U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was that it would risk triggering a backlash against Israel, and also potentially against U.S. interests in the Middle East.

U.S. allies added their warnings.

“The recognition will have very serious implications and will be provocative to all Muslims’ feelings,” Saudi Arabia’s state SPA news agency said, quoting an unnamed official source at the Saudi Foreign Ministry, echoing earlier warnings.

French President Emmanuel Macron “expressed his concern over the possibility that the United States would unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel” during a phone call with Trump on Monday.

The diplomats and government leaders did not spell out what the consequences might be of any announcement. In the past, diplomatic and political moves seen by Palestinians as hostile to their interests have led to violence.

A fifth U.S. official said concerns of Palestinian and other Arab leaders about endorsing Israel’s claim to Jerusalem were being taken into account but no final decisions had been made.