BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Thousands of Palestinians marched in cities across the occupied West Bank on Thursday to protest alleged plans by US President-Elect Donald Trump to move the American embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Trump -- who will be sworn into office on Friday -- pledged during his campaign that, if elected, he would ensure that the US embassy in Israel was moved to Jerusalem, with Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway reiterating last month
that the move would be a “very big priority” for the Trump administration.
Such a move would have serious repercussions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as it would imply the de facto recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
On Saturday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said
that “any attempts at legitimizing the illegal Israeli annexation of the city will destroy the prospects of any political process, bury the hopes for a two-state solution, and fuel extremism in our region, as well as worldwide.”
Hundreds of demonstrators waved Palestinian flags during a protest in the al-Shuhada square in the city of Nablus, holding signs reading slogans such as “Jerusalem is the key to peace and war,” “Moving the American embassy is a new Balfour Declaration for Palestinians.”
Nasser Abu Jaish, a member of the Palestinian People’s Party, told Ma’an in Nablus that moving the embassy would be tantamount to declaring war on the Palestinian people, as well as on Arab and Muslim nations.
“Especially at this time, moving the embassy would confirm that the American administration has decided to end peace process in the region,” Abu Jaish said.
Meanwhile, protesters in the city of Ramallah expressed their complete rejection of Trump’s potential decision.
Speakers in Ramallah’s al-Manara square said that recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of a country other than the state of Palestine was a “crime.”
At least one other protest took place in the southern West Bank city of Hebron.
Earlier this month, three Republican senators introduced a bill to the US Congress
that would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital and move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv, defying international stances on the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict resting on a two-state solution.
If implemented, the bill would give legitimacy to Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem since 1967, disregard Palestinian claims to the city, and possibly terminate a longstanding White House policy to perpetually defer a 1995 Congressional decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and move the embassy there.
The Israeli government has openly expressed its anticipation for a Trump presidency when right-wing politicians believe they will more easily advance plans to expand Israeli settlements and consolidate Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank.
The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the "Judaization" of East Jerusalem through settlement construction and mass demolitions of Palestinian homes.
While members of the international community have rested the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the discontinuation of illegal Israeli settlements and the establishment of a two-state solution, Israeli leaders have instead shifted further to the right as many Knesset members have called for an escalation of settlement building in the occupied West Bank, with some advocating for its complete annexation.