By Ali Shikho and Hussein al-Amir
Iraq’s firebrand Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has denounced U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, saying the move would amount to a “declaration of war on Islam”.
Trump had pledged during his electoral campaign to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem despite reluctance to do so by past administrations -- Republican and Democrat alike.
“If the embassy is relocated, this will be a declaration of war on Islam,” al-Sadr said in a statement on Tuesday.
If so, “this will necessitate the formation of a force to liberate Jerusalem,” he said without elaborating.
The Iraqi leader went on to call on Islamic countries to shut the U.S. and Israeli embassies on their land if Washington acted to move its diplomatic headquarters to Jerusalem.
“It also means that the U.S. embassy in Iraq must be closed immediately,” he said.
While Israel claims the city as its "eternal capital" after occupying East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israel war, the international community does not recognize the claim and foreign embassies are currently located in Tel Aviv.
On Monday, the White House said there have been "no decisions" on the embassy move to Jerusalem, saying talks on the relocation were in their “very early stages”.
Earlier this month, Republican lawmakers introduced legislation to relocate the embassy and recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
The bill is still winding its way through the Senate.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.