Regional peace and relations in jeopardy if mission is transferred from Tel Aviv, US told Read next Israeli soldier killed hours after strikes on Gaza Ultra Orthodox Jews in the Mount of Olives area of Jerusalem.
Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah have warned Donald Trump of the “dangerous” consequences of transferring the American embassy to Jerusalem after the US president informed the Palestinian and Jordanian leaders that he planned to move the mission. Nabil Abu Rdainah, a Palestinian spokesman, said in a statement that Mr Trump had notified Mr Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, that he intended to move the embassy from Tel Aviv in a phone call on Tuesday.
Such a decision would reverse decades of US policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and undermine Washington’s role as a broker in the peace process. A palace statement said King Abdullah had similarly warned that the move “would have dangerous repercussions for the security and stability of the Middle East, that it would undermine the US administration’s efforts to resume the peace process, and hurt the feelings of both Christians and Muslims.”
It added: “His Majesty stressed that Jerusalem is the key to achieving peace and stability in the region and the world.” Jordan is one of only two Arab states with formal relations with Israel. Mr Trump has previously vowed to transfer the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, although in June he issued a waiver to a congressional requirement to move it.
In 1995 Congress mandated that the embassy be in Jerusalem, but successive US presidents have signed repeated six-month waivers postponing the move for national security reasons. No nation has an embassy in Jerusalem. US officials have also been quoted in the US media as saying Mr Trump may recognise Jerusalem as the capital this week, which has provoked an angry reaction from Arab and Muslim leaders.
The international community’s position has long been that Jerusalem’s status should be determined by peace talks. The status of the divided city is hugely sensitive and its fate is one of the thorniest issues of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Israel regards Jerusalem as its undivided capital and claims sovereignty over the whole city. But the international community views East Jerusalem as occupied land and the Palestinians consider it their future capital.
Share this graphic Mr Trump was also scheduled to speak on Tuesday with Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, the White House said. Jerusalem’s holy sites are revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims, making the political disputes over it even more explosive. Its western half houses the Israeli parliament, Supreme Court and government headquarters, while the largely Arab eastern half was captured by Israel in the 1967 six-day war and annexed thereafter.
Rival Palestinian factions — Mr Abbas’s Fatah party and the Islamist Hamas group — have called for protests if Mr Trump recognises Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Hamas, which controls Gaza, said on its website that Ismail Haniyeh, the militant group’s leader, agreed with President Abbas that Palestinians should “mobilise” and express their rage on Wednesday. Mr Trump has promised to broker what he has described as the “ultimate” deal to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Trump advisers, led by Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, are hoping to unveil plans for a new peace process as soon as early 2018. But even US allies have publicly warned about the dangers of recognising Jerusalem. “The EU supports the resumption of a meaningful peace process towards a two-state solution.
We believe that any action that would undermine this effort must absolutely be avoided,” Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said at a joint briefing with Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state. “A way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states so that the aspirations of both parties can be fulfilled.”
Saudi Arabia, an important US ally that does not have diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv but is widely believed to be moving closer to Israel, added its voice to regional concerns. “The recognition will have serious implications and will be provocative to all Muslims,” the Saudi state news agency quoted an unnamed foreign ministry official as saying. “This will affect the US ability to continue its attempt of reaching a just solution for the Palestinian cause.” Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, joined regional leaders on Tuesday in declaring the status of Jerusalem as a red line for the Muslim world. Turkey, a Nato member, is one of the few countries in the region that has open, if fraught, diplomatic relations with Israel.
But Mr Erdogan said any plans to recognise Jerusalem “could even go as far as us cutting ties with Israel”. Regional bodies have also condemned any potential change to the status of Jersualem, warning that it could stoke unrest. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Arab League’s secretary-general, said it would “fuel extremism and a resort to violence”. Israeli officials have so far shaken off the concerns. Yair Lapid, a centre-right opposition, said on social media that Israel “needs to send a clear message to Mr Erdogan: don’t threaten us”. “Jerusalem is our capital, and the time has come for the world to recognise it already,” he said. “The American embassy and the embassies of the rest of the world need to be located in Jerusalem.”