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Arab League warns US against Jerusalem move
December 04, 2017
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CAIRO: Any move by the United States to recognise occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would fuel extremism and violence, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Saturday.

He spoke a day after a senior US administration official said US President Donald Trump was likely to make the announcement next week.

“Today we say very clearly that taking such action is not justified... It will not serve peace or stability, but will fuel extremism and resort to violence,” Aboul Gheit said in a statement published on the Arab league’s website.

“It only benefits one side; the Israeli government that is hostile to peace,” he added.

Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders were seeking on Sunday to rally diplomatic support to persuade Trump not to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital after suggestions that he planned to do so.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was holding a series of phone calls with world leaders to “explain the dangers of any decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem or recognise (Jerusalem) as Israel’s capital”, Abbas’s diplomatic adviser Majdi Al Khalidi told reporters.

His calls so far have included those to Arab leaders, French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan told Abbas that an independent Palestinian state must have east Jerusalem as its capital, Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Abbas was also said to be seeking an emergency summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League to discuss the issue.

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), and Palestinian Authority intelligence head Majed Farraj were making contacts in Washington, Khalidi said.

He said Abbas was warning “of the consequences of taking such a decision that will threaten the political process and peacemaking efforts.”

Meanwhile, the Palestinian hardliner movement Hamas which controls Gaza called Saturday for a new “intifada” if Washington recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel or moves its embassy to the disputed city.

Reports in Washington have suggested Trump may on Monday fulfil a campaign pledge on the American embassy, which like all other foreign missions is currently located in the coastal city of Tel Aviv.

“We warn against such a move and call on the Palestinian people to revive the intifada if these unjust decisions on Jerusalem are adopted,” Hamas said in a statement.

Any decision to move its embassy there would be “a flagrant attack on the city by the American administration” and give Israel “a cover for continuing its crime of Judaising the city and emptying it of Palestinians,” it said.

The status of occupied Jerusalem is a key issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Both Israelis and Palestinians claim the city as their capital and previous peace plans have stumbled over debates on whether, and how, to divide sovereignty or oversee holy sites.

The last Palestinian intifada, or uprising, which claimed the lives of some 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis, was sparked by right-wing opposition leader Ariel Sharon’s visit to the city’s flashpoint Al Aqsa mosque compound in 2000.

The Palestinian president’s office told reporters on Friday that American recognition of occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would “destroy the peace process”.

Since 1995 it has been US law that Washington’s embassy in Israel must be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as demanded by Israel.

But every six months since the law was passed a succession of US presidents have signed a waiver to hold off on a switch which would enrage Palestinians and their Arab supporters.

Trump has signed the waiver once, and grudgingly, after vowing to Jewish-American supporters that he would be the president to finally make the switch permanent.

The next deadline comes on Monday, and some in Washington suggest that Trump is planning a speech on the issue next week, before his deputy Mike Pence heads to Jerusalem.

The White House has described reports he may refuse to sign the waiver as premature − but sources told AFP they expect Trump to formally declare Jerusalem Israel’s capital.

The international community has never recognised occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel or its unilateral annexation of a band of territory around the city’s eastern sector, which it captured in the 1967 Six-Day war.

Agencies

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