Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned US President-elect Donald Trump on Friday not to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
Abbas invited Trump to visit the Palestinian territories, but also said: “We call on you not to implement your statement… because we consider it as an aggressive statement, when you say you want to move the embassy to Jerusalem.”
The PA president said moving the embassy would throw the peace process into a crisis it would not necessarily overcome, according to Israel Radio.
The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as their intended capital. An American decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would signal US acceptance of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The status of Jerusalem is one of the core issues that would need to be resolved in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on Palestinian statehood.
Israel annexed East Jerusalem and the Old City after capturing the areas in the 1967 war. The UN Security Council last month branded all such land occupied Palestinian territory — a designation furiously rejected by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who ridiculed the notion that the Temple Mount and Western Wall could be defined in this way. The US abstained in the vote, allowing the resolution to pass, infuriating Israel, and drawing criticism from Trump.
Abbas said Friday that any action that affects the status of Jerusalem would cross a red line and that the Palestinians would not put up with it.
Earlier this week, in a meeting with members of Israel’s left-wing Meretz party, Abbas said he did not believe Trump would move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, despite Trump and his team having made statements to that effect during the campaign as well as after his election win.
Abbas said on that occasion that the Palestinian leadership was currently showing patience on the matter, understanding that campaign promises were not necessarily a reflection of how Trump would actually govern.
He noted that moving the embassy would have “irreversible” consequences, and warned that if Trump did relocate it, the PA would “take steps” in response. He did not elaborate.
On Thursday, Jordan issued its first response to the incoming Trump administration’s intention to move the embassy.
A government spokesman in Amman warned that moving the embassy may have “catastrophic” repercussions. Such a move could affect relations between the US and regional allies, including Jordan, Information Minister Mohamed Momani told The Associated Press.
An embassy move would be a “red line” for Jordan, would “inflame the Islamic and Arab streets” and would serve as a “gift to extremists,” he said, adding that Jordan would use all possible political and diplomatic means to prevent such a decision.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said last month that he will resign, the peace process will be over for ever, the PLO will revoke its recognition of Israel and the US will be forced by Arab public opinion to close all its embassies in the Arab world if the Trump administration moves the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In a statement issued by the Trump transition team days earlier announcing David Friedman as Trump’s choice for ambassador to Israel, Friedman said he aimed to “strengthen the bond between our two countries and advance the cause of peace within the region,” and that he looked “forward to doing this from the US embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”
Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said on December 12 that moving the embassy “is very big priority for this president-elect, Donald Trump.” Conway told radio host Hugh Hewitt in a lengthy interview: “He made it very clear during the campaign, and as president-elect, I’ve heard him repeat it several times privately, if not publicly.”