TEL AVIV – Israeli lawmakers on Tuesday slammed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over his threat to sever diplomatic ties should President Donald Trump make a formal declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Jerusalem has been the “capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years and Israel’s capital for 70 years, regardless of whether Erdogan recognizes this or not,” unnamed diplomatic officials said in a statement. The remarks were made anonymously because the government has yet to issue a formal response.
Earlier, Erdogan said that any change to the status of Jerusalem is a “red line” for Muslims and could lead to his country cutting ties with Israel. He added that Turkey, as current chair of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, would call for an emergency summit of Muslim nations in the event of a formal declaration “set[ting] the entire Islamic world in motion.”
“Mr. Trump! Jerusalem is a red line for Muslims,” he said in a televised speech.
Turkey, Erdogan said, would “follow this struggle to the very last moment with determination and we could even go right up to cutting our diplomatic relations with Israel.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, said Erdogan should be ignored.
“Unfortunately, Erdogan does not miss an opportunity to attack Israel,” he said in a statement. “Israel must advance its goals, including the recognition of United Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel. There will always be those who criticize, but at the end of the day it is better to have a united Jerusalem than Erdogan’s sympathy.”
Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) said that there was no time like the present to make the declaration.
“Israel is a sovereign state and Jerusalem is its capital,” Katz tweeted. “There is no more historically justified and correct step now than recognizing Jerusalem, which has been the capital of the Jewish people for the past 3,000 years, as the capital of Israel. The days of the sultan and the Ottoman Empire have passed.”
Housing Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu) admonished Erdogan, telling him to take care of Turkey’s own problems.
“Turkish rule in Israel ended 100 years ago,” he tweeted. “Erdogan, you have enough troubles in Turkey — worry about your own issues and don’t threaten us.”
MK Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, warned Turkey against threatening Israel.
“Turkey’s president, the man who calls our soldiers by disgusting names, threatens once again to cut off relations with us,” Lapid tweeted. “The Israeli government must send a clear message to Erdogan — you do not threaten us. Jerusalem is our capital, and it is time for the world to recognize that fact. The US embassy and also the embassies of the rest of the countries of the world must be in Jerusalem.”
Last year, Turkey and Israel reached a rapprochement deal after close to seven years of severed ties due to the death of Turkish activists who attacked Israeli soldiers aboard the Mavi Marmara flotilla, which tried to run the blockade of Gaza.
Trump spoke to Abbas on Tuesday, reportedly telling him that he intends to announce that the U.S. embassy will be relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “Trump informed the president on his intention to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” the official PA news agency Wafa reported. Trump is also scheduled to call Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and King Abdullah of Jordan.