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Arabs flay Trump Jerusalem move
December 06, 2017
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WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday that he intends to move the US Embassy in Israel to occupied Jerusalem, a Palestinian spokesman said.

Senior US officials have said Trump is likely on Wednesday to recognise occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital while delaying relocating the embassy from Tel Aviv for another six months, though he is expected to order his aides to begin planning such a move immediately. The officials said, however, that no final decisions have been made.

Meanwhile, the Permanent Representatives to the Arab League met on Tuesday to discuss the developments regarding the US move on occupied Jerusalem.

Juma Mubarak Al Junaibi, UAE Ambassador to Egypt and Permanent Representative to the Arab League, represented the UAE at the meeting, which convened at the request of Palestine.

The aim was to formulate a unified Arab position towards the US decisions.

Addressing the extraordinary meeting of the Arab League’s Council at the level of permanent representatives, Secretary-General of Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, demanded the US administration to refrain from taking any initiative that could change the legal and political status of occupied

Jerusalem or any issues affecting the final status solution.

He warned of the serious consequences of such moves on regional security and stability. “Tampering with the destiny of (occupied) Jerusalem, which has a special place in the hearts of the Arabs, will inflame feelings of fanaticism, violence, hostility and hatred across the Arab and Muslim worlds,” he cautioned.

Abbas joined a mounting chorus of voices saying the US move could unleash turmoil.

“President Mahmoud Abbas received a telephone call from US President Donald Trump in which he notified the president of his intention to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said.

The statement did not say whether Trump, who was also due to talk to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Tuesday, specified the timing of such a move.

Abbas “warned of the dangerous consequences such a decision would have to the peace process and to the peace, security and stability of the region and of the world,” Abu Rdainah said.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz, who met last week with US officials in Washington, told Israel’s Army Radio: “My impression is that the president will recognise (occupied) Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years, as the capital of the state of Israel.”

Asked if Israel was preparing for a wave of violence if Trump recognises occupied Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, he said: “We are preparing for every option. Anything like that can always erupt. If Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) will lead it in that direction then he will be making a big mistake.”

Turkey threatened on Tuesday to cut diplomatic ties with Israel if Trump recognises occupied Jerusalem.

Senior US officials told Reuters some officers in the State Department were also deeply concerned and the European Union, the Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia all warned that any such declaration would have repercussions across the region.

“Mr Trump, Jerusalem is the red line of Muslims,” Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan told a parliamentary meeting of his ruling AK Party.

“This can go as far as severing Turkey’s ties with Israel. I am warning the United States not to take such a step which will deepen the problems in the region.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so far declined to speculate on what Trump might say.

But Katz took to Twitter to reject Turkey’s threat and reiterate Israel’s position on the ancient city, which is one of a long list of stumbling blocks in years of failed peace talks with the Palestinians.

“We don’t take orders or accept threats from the president of Turkey,” he wrote.

Two US officials said on condition of anonymity that news of the plan to recognise (occupied) Jerusalem as Israel’s capital had kicked up resistance from the State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs bureau (NEA), which deals with the region.

“Senior (officials) in NEA and a number of ambassadors from the region expressed their deep concern about doing this,” said one official, saying that the concerns focused on “security.”

The State Department referred questions to the White House.

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A fourth US official said the consensus US intelligence estimate on US recognition of occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was that it would risk triggering a backlash against Israel, and also potentially against US interests in the Middle East.

WAM/Reuters

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