Arab MKs accuse ‘pyromaniac’ Trump of ‘diplomatic terror’ with Jerusalem moves
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Arab MKs accuse ‘pyromaniac’ Trump of ‘diplomatic terror’ with Jerusalem moves

Leader of Arab Knesset party says US president 'will set entire region ablaze with his madness' as Trump signals 'intention' to relocate embassy

Arab MK Ahmad Tibi is seen atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City on February 25, 2014. (Sliman Khader/Flash 90)
Arab MK Ahmad Tibi is seen atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City on February 25, 2014. (Sliman Khader/Flash 90)

Arab Israeli lawmakers on Tuesday dubbed US President Donald Trump a “pyromaniac” and accused him of “diplomatic terrorism” after the Palestinian Authority and Jordan said their leaders were informed by the American president of his “intention” to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Trump’s phone calls with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Tuesday came amid speculation Trump could announce plans to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv or recognize Israel’s capital on Wednesday.

US officials have said he will hold off on moving the embassy right away, but may issue a statement reiterating his intent and even go as far as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

But the US president critically did not provide a timeframe when speaking to the Arab leaders in a flurry of phone calls on Tuesday. Trump was also set to call Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the White House.

The head of the Knesset’s Joint (Arab) List MK Ayman Odeh called Trump a “pyromaniac” and warned that going through with the move risked inflaming the region.

Joint (Arab) List leader Ayman Odeh leads a faction meeting in the Knesset in Jerusalem on October 31, 2016 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

“Trump is a pyromaniac, and will set the entire region ablaze with his madness,” Odeh said. “If one thing has been made clear in recent days, it’s that the US should not remain the broker of talks between Israel and the Palestinians.”

“If the Israeli government wants the world to recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, all it has to do is recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine,” he added.

In a statement, Joint (Arab) List MK Ahmad Tibi said moving the US embassy would violate international law and “seriously damage” the prospects for a two-state solution.

“This is an unreasonable move that is in violation of international law,” said Tibi. “It’s ridiculous that President Trump’s campaign promise ends up being ‘diplomatic terrorism,’ which will seriously damage the vision for two states.”

“The US administration proved this time that they are part of the problem and not part of the solution,” he said.

In the run-up to Wednesday’s expected announcement, a number of Arab and Muslim leaders have warned of the consequences of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying Tuesday the issue is a “red line” for Muslims and any change in the city’s status could “set the entire Islamic world in motion.”

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, the Arab League, and the EU have also objected.

While many Israeli politicians on both sides of the aisle have expressed their support for the embassy move, ministers were ordered by Netanyahu on Tuesday to not publicly comment on the issue.

US President Donald Trump delivers a speech at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on May 23, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

Jerusalem’s status has long been one of the thorniest issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The US has held the city’s status must be determined in negotiations between the sides.

Along with the West Bank, Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six War. It later extended sovereignty over East Jerusalem, although the move was never recognized by the international community. Israel claims the entire city as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Tamar Pileggi, AFP contributed to this report.

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