Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the United States on Monday it was a “partner to bloodshed” after Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel sparked violence. Erdogan bitterly opposes Trump’s decision and has sought to mobilize the Muslim world against it, calling a summit of Islamic countries on December 13 in Istanbul.
The Turkish president, who regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause, said the “struggle” of Muslims would not end until there was an independent Palestinian state. “They will never be able to clean the blood,” he said in a speech in Ankara. “With this recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it (the United States) has become a partner to this bloodshed. We do not recognize this decision, we will not,” he added.
Turkey had high hopes for relations under the Trump presidency, but ties have frayed with rows over the Syria conflict, a New York legal case and now Jerusalem. Erdogan said that the current “vandalism and cruelty” in Jerusalem would not last. “Those who think they own Jerusalem today will not find trees to hide behind,” he said.
Trump’s move has ignited protests across the Islamic world and deadly violence in the Palestinian territories. He said Wednesday’s summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul would be a “turning point” on the issue. Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had traded verbal blows at the weekend, with the Turkish leader describing Israel as a “terrorist state” that kills children.
Hours later Netanyahu hit back, calling his counterpart a leader who bombs Kurdish villagers and supports terrorists, during an official visit to Paris. However Erdogan did not refer to Netanyahu in his latest speech. 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 repeatedly been bitterly critical of Israeli policy.