Report: Trump told Abbas he intends to move US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
Abbas spokesman says Trump informed PA president during phone conversation of intention to deliver on campaign pledge; Abbas warns of ‘serious consequences of move; Trump holds phone calls with Netanyahu, other Mideast leaders.
A spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that President Donald Trump informed him in a telephone conversation that he intends to move the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, prompting the Palestinian leader to warn him of the "dangerous consequences" of such as step.
Trump notified Abbas "of his intention to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said.
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.
After receiving the news from Trump, Abbas attempted to enlist world leaders, including Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, France’s Emmanuel Macron and the Pope, to prevent the announcement.
Trump held telephone conversations on Tuesday with a number of Middle East leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said, in advance of his expected announcement about the US Embassy in Israel.
Despite the reports, Netanyahu instructed his ministers "not to talk about the embassy issue until there is a statement."
A Palestinian security official told Ynet that the decision would “explode the situation and the streets. We will go back to zero and it could ignite an intifada.”
The official added that the issue of Jerusalem is too sensitive for games. “All the security crises in the last 20 years are connected to Jerusalem,” he said. “From the Western Wall tunnel riots in 1996, Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount in 2000 to the security escalation in 2015-2016.”
"The president has calls scheduled this morning with Prime Minister Netanyahu, King Abdullah of Jordan and Palestinian Authority President Abbas. We will have a readout on these calls later today," Sanders said.
Trump was expected to announce as soon as Wednesday that he will again delay moving the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but stress that he wants to do so, a senior administration official said. The official said Trump was also likely to say that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Following the reports, Jordanian King Abdullah II called Abbas to stress "his full support with his Palestinian brothers in respect to their historic rights inherent in Jerusalem and of the need to work together to face the consequences of Trump's decision and halt whatever will harm the hopes of the Palestinian people to build a state with East Jerusalem as its capital."
Shortly after, the PA declared a "day of rage" at Palestinian schools on Wednesday.
The Moroccan King Muhammad VI also attempted to pressure Trump into reversing his reported decision, sending a memo to the president saying that "Jerusalem needs to continue to be a place of coexistence and equality."
The King also expressed concern for Trump's plan to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. The memo was sent in the name of 57 Arab and Muslim nations.
A senior administration official said last week that Trump would likely make the announcement on Wednesday, a step that would be welcomed by the Israeli government, but has sparked disapproval and outrage in many Arab countries.
Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner said the president had not yet made a final decision.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was the latest Arab leader to express his opposition to the move, warning on Tuesday of such a decision's ramifications.
Abadi's comments at a weekly news conference joined a mounting chorus of voices saying the move would unleash turmoil.
"The Iraqi government received this news with the utmost worry and warns about this decision's ramifications on the stability of the region and the world," the Iraqi cabinet said in a statement.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told Trump there was no need to "complicate" matters in the Middle East after Trump phoned him to talk about his decision to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a Cairo presidential statement said.
It said al-Sisi cautioned Trump against "taking measures that would undermine the chances of peace in the Middle East".
"The Egyptian president affirmed the Egyptian position on preserving the legal status of Jerusalem within the framework of international references and relevant UN resolutions," the statement said.
Al-Sisi emphasized that the Egyptian line remains that the legal status quo has to be preserved in Jerusalem, adding that actions had to be taken that would avoid complicating the situation in the region by avoiding decisions that threaten to decrease the chances of peace in the Middle East.
Russian President Vladimir Putin phoned Abbas to tell him Moscow backs a resumption of talks between Israel and Palestinian authorities, including on the status of Jerusalem, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.
No other details on the issue were provided.
The European Union, the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the Arab League all warned any such declaration would have repercussions across the region.