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US embassy move is 'red line', Abbas warns Trump

Palestinian president Abbas says the US should stop considering moving the embassy [AFP]

Date of publication: 7 January, 2017

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has warned US President-elect Donald Trump that moving the US embassy to Jerusalem would be a 'red line'.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has warned US President-elect Donald Trump that attempts to move the American embassy to Jerusalem would send the Middle East peace process and the entire world into "crisis".

Abbas' statement came following the introduction of a bill to US Congress on Wednesday that would recognise Jerusalem as Israel's undivided capital and move the embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state and integral to a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict.

Abbas warned Trump that the potential legitimisation of Israel's illegal annexation of occupied east Jerusalem would be a "red line".

"I demand the American administration stop its duality in dealing with the political process, especially concerning talks of moving the American embassy to Jerusalem," Abbas said.

"We consider this aggressive speech that contradicts the political efforts underway on the Palestinian situation, which includes a solution where east Jerusalem remains as Palestine's capital."

If implemented, the bill would give legitimacy to Israel's illegal occupation of east Jerusalem since 1967, disregard Palestinian claims to the city, and terminate a longstanding White House policy to perpetually defer a 1995 Congressional decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and move the embassy there.

If the US were to move its embassy it would also likely anger Washington's Arab allies.

Abbas has also invited Trump, who will be inaugurated on 20 January, to Bethlehem.

The New York billionaire has made his allegiance to Israel clear both before and since his election, even pledging to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's "undivided" capital in a meeting with Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu in September.

Abbas' comments came soon after the US House of Representatives passed a resolution denouncing last month's United Nations Security Council vote demanding an end to Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and iterated the US' unwaivering support for Israel.

Meanwhile Ramallah-based rights group al-Haq said the resolution does not go far enough to bring an end to Israeli violations of international law.

These include collective punishment, extrajudicial killing, torture and ill-treatment and arbitrary arrests.

"The time has come for the international community to abandon the carrot and stick approach, and take actions in adherence with their obligations under international law that will ultimately pave the way for peace and justice," general director Shawan Jabarin said.



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