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Trump tells Abbas of plans to move embassy as world leaders warn of consequences

Dec. 5, 2017 7:42 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 6, 2017 7:50 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- After days of speculation over whether the US would be moving its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, American President Donald Trump called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday and confirmed his intentions to move the embassy.

Abbas’ spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh released a statement saying that Abbas "warned [Trump] of the dangerous repercussions of such step” for the peace-process between Israel and Palestine, and for general security and stability in the region and world.

Abbas reportedly reiterated the Palestinian leadership’s unwavering position that without what is no occupied East Jerusalem as its capital, there is not future of Palestinian state as stipulated in international resolutions.

Abu Rudeineh stressed that Abbas “will continue to contact world leaders in order to prevent this unacceptable.”

Israeli news daily Haaretz quoted Nabil Shaath, a senior Palestinian official, as saying that "the mother of all the [peace] deals dies here on the rocks in Jerusalem if he says tomorrow that he recognizes a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel."

Meanwhile, international media outlets reported that Trump also phoned Jordanian King Abdullah II, who, according to Haaretz, told Trump over the phone that he pledged to “thwart any American initiative to renew the peace process and would encourage rage and resistance among Muslims and Christians alike,” if the embassy was moved.

While many countries have consulates in Jerusalem that cater to citizens residing in the occupied Palestinian territory, the majority of embassies to Israel are located in the Tel Aviv area, which is recognized by the international community as Israel’s capital.

Despite repeatedly making the promise to move the embassy throughout his presidential campaign, in June, Trump signed a temporary order to keep the US embassy in Tel Aviv, a renewable six-month waiver that has been signed by every US President for the past two decades.

If implemented, the move would be seen as the first step to a drastic abdication of longstanding US policy that has largely adhered to international standards on Israel-Palestine, which maintains that East Jerusalem is an intricate part of occupied Palestinian territory and the capital of any future Palestinian state, despite Israel’s annexation of the territory.

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.

International media has speculated that Trump will officially announce the decision on Wednesday, after he failed to sign the waiver by its deadline on Monday.

Trump’s decision has drawn condemnation from leaders across the globe, including Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, and the EU.

According to Haaretz, 25 former Israeli ambassadors, academics and peace activists also expressed their opposition to Trump's potential recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in a letter to Trump’s envoy in the region, Jason Greenblatt.

The news of Trump’s decision regarding the embassy came amid weeks of speculation by international media over the Trump administrations “ultimate peace plan” for the region, which was set to be presented soon.

Trump has repeatedly said peace between Israelis and Palestinians was something he could achieve as president. “I want to see peace with Israel and the Palestinians,” Trump said in April. "There is no reason there’s not peace between Israel and the Palestinians -- none whatsoever.”

While Trump has maintained on many occasions that, under his auspices, the decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict will be solved, up until this week, his administration has painted a rather unclear picture regarding Trump’s plans in the region, while a number of high-profile US officials are known to be staunch supporters of Israel.

In February, Trump said that when it came to a solution for the decades-long conflict he could “live with either” a one- or two-state solution, in a significant departure from the US’ publicly held position in favor of a two-state solution to the conflict.

However, his elusiveness has not belied the fact that Trump and his administration have maintained their pro-Israel stance, despite stated efforts to renew the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which he said in the past was "not as difficult as people have thought over the years.”

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