Dem senator: Jerusalem decision strains ‘relationship with Turkey’

Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenators introduce Trump-backed criminal justice bill 3 ways House Dems can fight climate change when sweeping policy is off the table Hillicon Valley: Trump eyes staff shake-up | Amazon taps NYC, Northern Virginia for new offices | What it will mean for DC | Tech firms buck Trump on cyber pact | Defense official warns against hacking back MORE (D-R.I.) early Thursday criticized President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichelle Obama says not always easy to live up to "we go high" Georgia certifies elections results in bitterly fought governor's race Trump defends border deployment amid fresh scrutiny MORE’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, saying it could harm the United States’ relationship with Mideast nations including Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

“I think what’s really dangerous is what this means for our relationship with Turkey, which we still depend on for a lot of basing for our military efforts in the Middle East, and with the Saudis, who the Trump White House have bent over backwards to accommodate as our new best friend in the region,” Whitehouse said on CNN’s “New Day.”

Trump on Wednesday said the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and announced plans to move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv.

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Prior to the announcement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned that Ankara could sever diplomatic ties with Israel if the U.S. declared Jerusalem the capital. Erdoğan called the decision a “red line for Muslims.”

Saudi Arabia’s Royal Court, meanwhile, issued a statement Wednesday calling Trump’s announcement “unjustified and irresponsible,” according to Reuters.

Whitehouse suggested on Thursday that Trump’s decision was motivated, at least in part, by a desire to appeal to his base of evangelical voters. 

“I think it’s a dangerous idea to let those religious beliefs get ahead of our national interests and our diplomatic interests,” Whitehouse said. 

He added that if Turkish and Saudi leaders push back on the decision, “it can really degrade our ability to be effective in that area.”