US President Donald Trump tells Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of intention to move US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds: Palestinian presidency

December 5, 2017 11:45 pm
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) and President (file photo)
US President Donald Trump has told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of his intention to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds, the Palestinian presidency says.
In a phone call on Tuesday, Trump “informed the president (Abbas) on his intention to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” the Palestinian presidency said in a statement.
The statement did not explain whether the US president planned to move the embassy immediately or at some point in the future.
Abbas, for his part, “warned of the dangerous consequences of such a decision on the peace process, security and stability in the region and the world,” the statement said.
“The president reaffirms our firm position that there can be no Palestinian state without east Jerusalem as its capital in accordance with the resolutions of international law and the Arab peace initiative,” it added.
The Palestinian president “will continue his communications with world leaders to prevent such an unacceptable and rejected step.”
An Israeli man blowing a Shofar near the Dome of the Rock (C) in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds on December 5, 2017. (AFP photo)
Earlier in the day, Abbas’ diplomatic adviser Majdi Khaldi said the Palestinian leadership would “stop contacts” with Washington if Trump declared the recognition.
On Monday, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said that Trump “has been clear on this issue from the get-go: It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.”
Trump’s expected declaration of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital” has drawn opposition from various countries and international bodies, including Turkey and the European Union (EU).
The EU chief, Federica Mogherini, said earlier in the day that “any action that would undermine” the two-state solution “must absolutely be avoided.”
Mogherini was speaking alongside US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on a visit to Brussels.
She said EU foreign ministers will jointly discuss the status of Jerusalem al-Quds with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Brussels next Monday, to be followed by a similar meeting with Abbas early next year.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini give a joint press conference at the European Union Council building in Brussels, December 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The entire Jerusalem al-Quds is currently under Israel’s control, while the regime also claims the city’s eastern part, which hosts the third holiest Muslim site.
The city has been designated as “occupied” under international law since the 1967 Arab War, which Palestinians want as the capital of their future state.
Since the US Congress ruled in 1995 that the embassy be relocated from Tel Aviv, every president has deferred the troublesome measure by issuing a six-month waiver.
When Trump faced his first deadline back in June, he also refused to keep his campaign pledge to immediately move the embassy.
According to The Washington Post, “he acted, reluctantly, on advice from Cabinet heads, Jordanian King Abdullah II and others, who argued that such a move could ignite violence.”
Trump’s emerging administration was also starting stated efforts to restart Mideast peace talks, which could be potentially harmed by the move.
Trump, however, has harmed his agenda by other measures that have alienated Palestinians even further as his Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner stays in charge of the so-called peace process between Israel and Palestinians.
A picture taken on December 4, 2017 shows a general view of the skyline of the old city of Jerusalem al-Quds, with the Dome of the Rock (L) in the Aqsa Compound visible on the left. (By AFP)
US President Donald Trump’s expected declaration of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital” has drawn opposition from various countries and international bodies, including Turkey and the European Union (EU).
Trump reportedly plans to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel in a speech on Wednesday in an apparent bid to justify his pledge to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.
In reaction, Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Tuesday described the potential relocation of the US embassy or the recognition of al-Quds as Israel’s “capital” as “dangerous,” warning that the measures would have repercussions across the region.
He told Arab government delegates that they had decided to meet in Cairo “given the danger of this matter, if it were to happen, and the possible negative consequences not only for the situation in Palestine but also for the Arab and Islamic region.”
A picture taken on November 19, 2017 shows a general view of the Arab League headquarters during a meeting in the Egyptian capital, Cairo. (By AFP)
Aboul Gheit also urged Washington not to take any measures that would change the legal and political status of the holy city.
Turkey threatens to cut ties with Israel over al-Quds
Meanwhile, Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan has described the move as a “red line” for Muslims, warning that Ankara could cut ties with Tel Aviv if the US formally recognized al-Quds as Israel’s “capital.”
“Mr Trump, Jerusalem [al-Quds] is the red line of Muslims. It is a violation of international law to take a decision supporting Israel while the Palestinian ’s wounds are still bleeding,” Erdogan said at a parliamentary meeting of his ruling AK Party.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he gives a speech during an AK Party’s group meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara, on December 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
“This can go as far as severing Turkey’s ties with Israel. I am warning not to take such a step, which will deepen the problems in the region,” he said.
Palestinians threaten to stop contacts with US
A diplomatic adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also said the Palestinian leadership would “stop contacts” with Washington if Trump declared the recognition.
Majdi Khaldi said on Tuesday that the US would lose credibility as a Mideast mediator if Trump went ahead with the move.
Macron expresses concern
Separately, French President Emmanuel Macron has expressed his concern over the potential US move during a phone call with Trump.
French President Emmanuel Macron addresses the media following a meeting with his Bulgarian counterpart at the Elysee palace in Paris, on December 4, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
“The French president has expressed his concern at the possibility of the unilaterally designating Jerusalem [al-Quds]” as the capital of Israel, the Elysee palace said in a statement, referring to a Monday phone call between the two.
Macron stressed that any such decision must be “within the framework of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.”
The entire Jerusalem al-Quds is currently under Israel’s control, while the regime also claims the city’s eastern part, which hosts the third holiest Muslim site.
The city has been designated as “occupied” under international law since the 1967 Arab War, which Palestinians want as the capital of their future state.
EU warns of ‘serious repercussions’
The European Union (EU) also warned of the “serious repercussions” of the potential US move.
EU foreign policy director Federica Mogherini’s office said in a statement on Tuesday, “Since early this year, the European Union was clear in its expectation that there can be reflection on the consequences that any decision or unilateral action affecting Jerusalem [al-Quds]’s status could have.”
It warned that such moves “might have serious repercussions on public opinion in large parts of the world.”
The statement also called for focusing on “the efforts to restart the peace process and avoiding any action that would undermine such efforts.”
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