The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron are working together in persuading the United States to reconsider its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Both leaders agreed to “close cooperation” on the Jerusalem crisis, a presidential source said.
Image: Erdogan and Macron
The two leaders agreed during a phone call that the move is “worrisome for the region,” the source said, adding that Turkey and France would make a joint effort to try to reverse the US decision.
Erdogan said it was the duty of all humanity to preserve the status of Jerusalem, the source added on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media, according to TRT World.
He noted the importance of the sensitive attitude of EU members and said a wrong step could negatively impact the region, including Israel.
The presidents agreed to continue efforts to convince the US to reconsider its decision.
Erdogan also spoke on the phone to the presidents of Kazakhstan, Lebanon and Azerbaijan on Saturday regarding the issue, the source said. On Wednesday, he called an urgent meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Turkey this week.
Erdogan said regional peace and stability could only be secured through an independent and sovereign Palestine state within its 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Referring to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit due to be held in Istanbul on December 13, he said the summit would be an important forum to show the Islamic world’s united front over Jerusalem, a holy city for Muslims, Jews and Christians.
On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump announced the US’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided” capital and said the US embassy would relocate from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Palestinians took to the streets following the US decision.
Demonstrations also took place in Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Tunisia, Somalia, Yemen, Malaysia and Indonesia, and outside the US embassy in Berlin.
The status of Jerusalem has been one of the biggest obstacles to a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians for generations.
France has been a supporter of the Palestinian cause. In 2014, the French National Assembly passed a non-binding motion calling on the government to recognize Palestine, but the government has not officially done so.
Paris has pointed out in the past its conviction that a two-state solution requires the recognition of Palestine.
‘State of occupation’
Erdogan speaking in Istanbul, later on, described Israel as a “state of occupation” which used “terror” against the Palestinians, as he stepped up his criticism of the US recognition of Jerusalem as its capital.
“Israel is a state of occupation,” Erdogan said, referring to Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank and settlement building.
“And now they are making use of terror and are bombing young people and children,” he said.
Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip killed two fighters from Palestinian group Hamas before dawn, bringing to four the number killed since Trump announced the move.
Erdogan described Jerusalem as the “apple of our eye” and a “red line” for Muslims.
He said that the American decision was “null and void” for Ankara.
“Trump seeks to move forwards by saying ‘there we go, I did it, it’s done.’ I’m sorry but… being strong does not give you such a right,” said the Turkish president.
“The leaders of major countries have a mission to make peace. Not unleash conflicts.”
Last year, Turkey and Israel ended a rift triggered by Israel’s 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, particularly in energy, but Erdogan has been critical of Israeli policy.
Last week he warned that Turkey’s reaction “could go as far as” cutting relations with Israel, but he made no reference to this in his latest speech.