Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called eight Arab and world leaders and urged them to prevent the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and a declaration by US President Donald Trump acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
As of Saturday night, Trump had not signed a waiver delaying the move of the embassy by another six months, and he has only until Monday to do so. A stream of media reports in recent days have indicated that the president intends to declare in a speech within days that he considers Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital, and that he may say he is instructing his team to prepare to move the embassy.
Abbas, according to the official PA news Wafa, told the leaders in a series of phone calls Saturday of the dangers of such a move, and urged them to intervene with Trump.
Abbas called Egypt’s Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Tunisian President Béji Caid Sibsi, the emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Abbas “warned categorically that taking such a step would lead to the destruction of the peace process and would bring the region into an uncontrollable situation,” according to his spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh.
On Wednesday Abbas ordered his foreign minister to demand the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation hold emergency sessions regarding the possible US measures.
On Friday, a delegation from the Palestinian Authority reportedly met with presidential adviser Jared Kushner to warn that if the White House announces the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, or if Trump makes remarks acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, this would mark the end of the peace process, according to Israeli news reports.
Any such steps “will kill the negotiations,” the PA delegation — which included Majed Faraj and Saeb Erekat, senior officials close to Abbas — told Kushner, Hadashot news reported.
The warning was backed up by a letter from Erekat, reflecting Abbas’s anger at the anticipated US moves.
The PA delegation further said that were the US to make any such moves, the Palestinians would declare that the US could no longer be considered “an honest broker” for any Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Channel 10 News reported, saying the meeting took place at the White House.
Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and peace process point man, is scheduled to discuss the administration’s approach to peacemaking in a rare appearance at the Saban Forum in DC on Sunday.
The White House has not formally confirmed what it might do on the Jerusalem issue, saying that, for now, various options are open.
Multiple reports surfaced this week that the president would for the second time waive a congressional mandate requiring the US embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but that he would take the dramatic step of formally recognizing the holy city as Israel’s capital.
According to an Axios report on Friday, Trump is set to give a speech to this effect on Wednesday.
A White House spokesman, contacted by The Times of Israel on Friday afternoon, would not confirm the story. “The president has always said it is a matter of when, not if,” the official said. “The president is still considering options and we have nothing to announce.”
On Tuesday, US Vice President Mike Pence said Trump “is actively considering when and how to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” Pence spoke at a gathering of UN ambassadors, diplomats and Jewish leaders at an event in New York commemorating the 70th anniversary of the UN vote for partition of Palestine, which led to the creation of the State of Israel.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.