WASHINGTON - The foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan spoke on Sunday with American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and warned him against declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move that President Donald Trump is considering carrying out later this week.
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The two foreign ministers told Tillerson that such a move, which would alter decades of American foreign policy, could led to violence in the Middle East and a collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri told Tillerson that Jerusalem's historical and religious significance should lead to caution when dealing with the diplomatic status of the city, stating how important the issue is to the Palestinians, but also to the wider Arab and Muslim world.
Shukri added that Egypt is interested in helping build trust between Israel and the Palestinians, so that the two sides can reach a just and comprehensive peace agreement.
Shukri's Jordanian counterpart, Ayman Safadi, also called Tillerson with a similar, perhaps even harsher, warning. Safadi said after the call that he had highlighted the "dangerous consequences of recognizing Jerusalem as capital of Israel." He added that such a decision would "trigger anger across the Arab and Muslim world, fuel tension and jeopardize peace efforts." It should be noted that while Jordan and Egypt both released official statements about the conversations, as of Sunday night, the United States did not.
Over the weekend, senior Palestinian officials warned that U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital or the relocation of the American embassy would put an end to peace talks. President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeinah, said Saturday that such a step is a dangerous development that would destabilize the region, while Hamas has called for a popular uprising to thwart such a "conspiracy."
Last week, Jordanian King Abdullah warned the Trump administration and senior members of Congress about the dangers of moving the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The king said during a working visit to Washington that such a move could strengthen terrorist groups across the Middle East and lead to the collapse of any peace initiative currently being planned by the Trump administration. Abdullah met on Sunday with American Secretary of Defense James Mattis in Jordan.
Turkey also reportedly joined the fierce Arab condemnation of the potential move by Trump, with Turkish English-language daily Hurriyet Daily News reporting Monday that government spokesman Bekir Bozdag called a possible declaration of Jerusalem as the capital a "disaster" for the region.
Bozdag reportedly spoke after a Turkish cabinet meeting, saying that if Trump decides to declare Jerusalem to be exclusively Israeli, he would "entirely abolish the peace process" and "pave the way for new uneasiness."
He said that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians would benefit from such a move, and continued to warn that "if other steps are taken for Jerusalem, whose status is under protection by international agreements, the outcome will be disaster."
The Turkish spokesperson went on to say that "international agreements and United Nations resolutions require the protection of Jerusalem's status, and the UN has a separate commitment to maintain this status. Turkey reminds everyone once again of their responsibilities and commitments at this point."
He also noted that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas over the phone to discuss the potential move.