A day after threatening to cut off diplomatic relations with Israel, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for an urgent summit of the main Islamic body in Istanbul next week to discuss a U.S. move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, his spokesman said on Wednesday.
President Donald J. Trump‘s expected step rattled the Middle East region, roiling the wider Islamic world, with cataclysmic consequences of such an ill-conceived move.
“In the face of developments that arouse sensitivity over the status of Jerusalem, Mr. President is calling a leaders’ summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in order to display joint action among Islamic countries,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told reporters in Ankara.
He said the summit meeting would take place on December 13. There was no immediate confirmation from Muslim leaders if they would come.
Turkey currently holds the chairmanship of the OIC.
On Tuesday, President Erdogan said Jerusalem is a “red line for Muslims.”
The recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the moving of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — expected to be announced by President Trump later Wednesday — would be a “grave mistake” against international agreements, Mr. Kalin warned.
“Jerusalem is our honor, Jerusalem is our common cause, Jerusalem is our red line,” he added, urging the Trump administration to “return from this grave mistake immediately.”
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said the expected U.S. move risked igniting a “fire” in the Middle East and will prove a “great disaster.”
The recognition will “throw the region and the world into a fire and it’s not known when it will end,” Mr. Bozdag, also government spokesman, wrote on Twitter.
The minister said such a step which showed “great intolerance and mindlessness” would “destroy the peace process.”
Chaos and Instability
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Brussels ahead of meeting U.S. counterpart Rex Tillerson that the move is a “mistake” that “will not bring stability and peace but rather chaos and instability.”
Asked whether he would bring the issue up with Mr. Tillerson, the minister said: “I have already told him and I will tell him again.”
The Turkish leader — who regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause — is due to hold talks later in Ankara with Jordanian King Abdullah II who is also a strong opponent of the move.
Last year, Turkey and Israel ended a rift triggered by Israel’s deadly 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 in particular in energy but Mr. Erdogan is still often bitterly critical of Israeli policy.
The United States supports a strong relationship between Turkey, the key Muslim member of NATO, and Israel, which is Washington’s main ally in the Middle East.