Fatah warns moving US embassy will ‘open gates of hell’
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Abbas says Palestinians might 'reverse our recognition of Israel'

Fatah warns moving US embassy will ‘open gates of hell’

Spokesman for Abbas's party says Palestinian people 'won't allow' Trump to relocate embassy to Jerusalem

Pope Francis meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a private audience at the Vatican, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. (Giuseppe Lami/ANSA pool via AP)
Pope Francis meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a private audience at the Vatican, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. (Giuseppe Lami/ANSA pool via AP)

The spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party on Saturday warned that if the Trump administration moves the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, it will “open the gates of hell.”

Fatah spokesman Osama Qawasmeh said Donald Trump’s campaign promise, if implemented, would negate chances for peace and stability in the region, and “the Palestinian people won’t allow that happen,” according to Israel Radio. To move the embassy, he said, would be to “open the gates of hell in the region and in the whole world.”

On Friday, Abbas told Le Figaro the Palestinians might revoke their recognition of Israel: If the embassy transfer takes place, “there would be several options for us, and we would discuss them with Arab countries,” Abbas said. “Reversing our recognition of the State of Israel is one of them. But we hope that it doesn’t reach that point, and that, on the contrary, we will be able to work with the next American administration,” he added.

Earlier Saturday, Abbas warned that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would “destroy the prospects of any political process, bury the hopes for a two-state solution, and fuel extremism in our region, as well as worldwide.”

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas gestures on January 6, 2017, in Beit Sahur, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem. (AFP/HAZEM BADER)
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas gestures on January 6, 2017, in Beit Sahur, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem. (AFP/HAZEM BADER)

“In this moment, we extend our hand to President-elect Trump for his cooperation to make peace based on international law,” Abbas said in statement after he inaugurated the Palestinian embassy to the Holy See following an audience with Pope Francis.

The Palestinians strongly oppose the move, saying it would kill any hopes for negotiating an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and rile the region by undercutting Muslim and Christian claims to the holy city.

Donald Trump and attorney David Friedman exit the Federal Building, following an appearance in US Bankruptcy Court on February 25, 2010, in Camden, New Jersey. (Bradley C Bower/Bloomberg News, via Getty Images / JTA)
Donald Trump and attorney David Friedman exit the Federal Building, following an appearance in US Bankruptcy Court on February 25, 2010, in Camden, New Jersey. (Bradley C Bower/Bloomberg News, via Getty Images / JTA)

Trump hasn’t yet laid out a clear Mideast policy, but has signaled he will be more sympathetic to Israel’s hard-line right than previous administrations. He has also vowed to move the US embassy.

Abbas has written to Trump warning of the risks of such a move and asked him to reconsider, while also flagging the concern to Arab and other world leaders, said the Palestinian foreign minister, Riyad Malki.

The last three successive US presidents have maintained that the future status of Jerusalem should be settled in final negotiations between the parties, as both Israelis and Palestinians claim the city as their rightful capital.

But Trump has indicated since his victory in November he will no longer honor that tradition. In December, he nominated his longtime friend and attorney David Friedman, a vocal supporter and donor to West Bank settlements, to be the next US ambassador to Israel

The US embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, June 14, 2016. (Flash 90)
The US embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, June 14, 2016. (Flash 90)

In a statement announcing the selection, Friedman said he expected to carry out his duties in “Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

Trump also repeatedly promised during the campaign that he would move the embassy. While past presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also vowed on the trail to do so, neither fulfilled that promise once they assumed the responsibilities of conducting America’s foreign policy.

The Obama administration allowed passage of a United Nations Security Council Resolution last month that condemns settlements as a violation of international law. The text states that all areas Israel captured in the 1967 war — which includes East Jerusalem and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, with the Temple Mount and Western Wall, the holiest sites in Judaism — are “occupied Palestinian territory.”

Earlier this month, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R), Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) and Nevada Sen. Dean Heller (R) proposed the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act, which urges Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there.

But, Trump’s choice to head the Pentagon last week said the US should continue treating Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital, breaking with the Republican lawmakers and intimations the incoming president could fulfill his campaign pledge to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.

AP contributed to this report.

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