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December 4, 2017 4:03 pm

Turkey, Arab States Stoke Talk of ‘Catastrophe’ and ‘Violence,’ as World Awaits Trump Announcement on Potential US Embassy Move to Jerusalem

avatar by Ben Cohen

Turkish demonstrators protest Israel’s presence in Jerusalem at a July 2017 protest in Ankara. Photo: File.

Turkey declared on Monday that a relocation of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would trigger a “catastrophe” across the region, in a further sign that some Muslim states are tacitly encouraging a violent response by pointing to its inevitability in advance of any American announcement on the matter.

“If the current status of Jerusalem is changed and another step is taken, that would be a major catastrophe,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said during a televised press conference.

“It would completely destroy the fragile peace process in the region, and lead to new conflicts, new disputes and new unrest,” Bozdag said. “Rather than open new doors, it would drag the region into a new catastrophe.”

Bozdag’s comments come following a telephone call on Saturday between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, during which Erdogan emphasized his support for the Palestinian position. The issue of Jerusalem has been a consistent feature of Erdogan’s verbal attacks on Israel, with the Turkish leader accusing Israel last July of “harming Jerusalem’s Islamic character” as Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces in the Old City.

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Other governments in the region have joined with Turkey in declaring that a US embassy move will be greeted with violent protest. On Monday, PA Deputy Premier Ziad Abu Amr told the US Consul in Jerusalem, Donald Blome, that a decision by President Donald Trump in favor of the move “will be faced by widespread protests in the Palestinian territories and other parts of the Islamic world, because Jerusalem is not only the capital of the State of Palestine but also because it has an Arab and Islamic significance.” Abu Amr added that if the Trump administration acted to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem or recognized the city as the capital of Israel, “it will free the Palestinian leadership from any previous understandings it had with the US administration.”

On Sunday, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit expressed the same view, stating, “We say very clearly that taking such action is not justified.”

“It will not serve peace or stability, but will fuel extremism and result to violence,” Aboul Gheit said. “It only benefits one side; the Israeli government that is hostile to peace.”

Official Iranian media outlets quoted a Tehran-based Hamas representative describing an embassy move as “a clear act of aggression.” The Hamas representative accused the US of “seeking to legitimize the occupation of al-Quds and cover up the fact that the city belongs to Palestinians and the Arab and Islamic world.”

Trump is expected to announce his decision on Wednesday. On Monday, US media speculated that the president would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while keeping the embassy in Tel Aviv for the immediate future.

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