Trump tells Abbas of plans to move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

By Sara Shayanian and Danielle Haynes  |  Updated Dec. 5, 2017 at 2:52 PM
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Dec. 5 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Tuesday informed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other Middle Eastern leaders he intends to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a statement from the Palestine Liberation Organization said.

Trump called Abbas to inform him of his decision, though no official announcement has been made by U.S. officials. Abbas warned Trump of the "grave consequences" of moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, WAFA, the official news agency of the PLO, reported.

Abbas said the move would jeopardize the work toward a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Trump administration also notified Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jordanian King Abdullah, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi King Salman of the plan.

Senior U.S. officials said Trump plans to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday and delay moving the Embassy for six months, Haaretz reported.

The deadline to announce the embassy's possible move from Tel Aviv was pushed from Friday to Monday. However, that passed without any official word from the Trump administration.

The president is facing more warnings from U.S. and foreign leaders over the repercussions of the potential move, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Erdoğan described the status of Jerusalem as a "red line" for Muslims and warned the embassy move could lead to Ankara cutting ties with Israel.

"If the status of Jerusalem is changed and another step is taken ... that would be a major catastrophe," Bekir Bozdağ, Turkey's deputy prime minister, said. "It would completely destroy the fragile peace process in the region, and lead to new conflicts, new disputes and new unrest."

The European Union cautioned there could be "serious repercussions."

Some officials warned the relocation could delay the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Abul Gheit, an Arab League leader, said it could pose a threat "to the stability of the Middle East and the whole world."

French President Emmanuel Macron told Trump that Jerusalem's status must be decided "within the framework of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians."

Abbas said Palestinians would "walk away from contacts with U.S. officials" if Jerusalem is declared the capital.

If the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital, it would be the first country to do so since the creation of Israel in 1948.

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