Mideast reacts to US Israel embassy relocation plans

Speculation that Washington plans to relocate its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has prompted a wave of negative reactions from governments and political groups throughout the Middle East.

Reacting to reports that U.S. President Donald Trump was planning to recognize the city as Israel's capital, Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan said Tuesday that ignoring the "inviolability" of Jerusalem would lead to "serious consequences".

"Jerusalem is a red line for Muslims," Erdogan said at a meeting of lawmakers from his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party.

"We implore the U.S. once again: you cannot take this step," he said.

If the U.S. were to do so, he added, Turkey could sever its diplomatic ties with Israel -- which were only restored last year following a six-year hiatus.

Saudi officials also warned against reported U.S. plans to relocate the embassy and recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) quoted a ministry source on Tuesday who voiced the kingdom's "deep concern over media reports that the U.S. administration intends to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and relocate its embassy to Jerusalem".

According to the same source, the move -- if taken -- would violate "international resolutions emphasizing the Palestinians' historical right to Jerusalem".

Egypt's Al-Azhar, the highest seat of religious scholarship in the Sunni-Muslim world, likewise warned against the planned move.

In a Tuesday statement, the Cairo-based religious institution said such a move would constitute "a threat to world peace".

"It would anger Muslim sentiments, threaten world peace, and deepen tensions, divisions and hatred," it warned.

The Al-Azhar went on to stress Jerusalem's "Arab identity", urging Arab and Muslim nations to resist the move by Washington.

Also on Tuesday, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for the Palestinian presidency, said the Palestinian leadership was thinking about convening an emergency Arab summit in the event the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

In a press statement run by Palestine's official WAFA news agency, Abu Rudeineh said Arabs and Muslims had to "assume their obligation" to safeguard Jerusalem.


Ahmad al-Bakr, Kuwait's ambassador to the Arab League, likewise warned of the "seriousness" of the move.

His remarks came during a speech delivered at the Cairo-based Arab League on Tuesday, convened to discuss recent developments pertaining to the status of Jerusalem.

According to Kuwait's official news agency, the ambassador said that the move would "endanger the peace process and have negative implications for regional security and stability".

Tunisia and Jordan, for their part, stressed the need to preserve Jerusalem's historical and legal status against the backdrop of the embassy's expected relocation.

This came in a telephone conversation late Monday between Tunisian Foreign Minister Khamis al-Jihnaoui and Jordanian counterpart Ayman al-Safadi, according to a Tunisian Foreign Ministry statement issued Tuesday.

"Both officials stressed the need to preserve Jerusalem's historical and legal status and respect international resolutions stipulating that the city's status should be determined in final-status talks," the statement read.

And on Monday, Jordanian lawmakers also warned the U.S. against plans to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem and acknowledge the city as the Jewish state's capital.

MPs issued the warning during a joint news conference held by parliament's Reform Bloc and the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political arm of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood group, at the IAF's headquarters in Amman.

"The embassy's transfer to Jerusalem will not serve to legitimize the [Israeli] occupation [of Palestinian territory]," Reform Bloc leader Abdullah al-Akaylah declared.

Warning against what he described as "the liquidation of the Palestinian cause", he said: "Arab regimes are racing to normalize ties with the Israeli entity; we appeal to our brothers in all [Arab] parliaments to push their respective governments to resist this trend."

Last week, U.S. media reported that Trump was mulling the imminent relocation of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the formal recognition of the city as Israel's capital.

Jerusalem remains at the core of the Israel-Palestine dispute, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem -- currently occupied by Israel -- might eventually serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

During his election campaign last year, Trump repeatedly promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem.

Source: Anadolu Agency