After warning that he could officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by the end of the week – an announcement that drew vociferous objections from Turkey and Saudi Arabia, who both warned that such a declaration would irreparably damage US ties with the Muslim world – Palestinian sources are reporting that President Donald Trump told Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas that the US intends to eventually move its embassy to Jerusalem – a contested city that is claimed as a capital by both Israel and the Palestinian territories.
As we noted earlier, the decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would infuriate Palestinians.
Majdi Khaldi, a diplomatic adviser of President Mahmoud Abbas, said the Palestinian leadership would “stop contacts” with the US if Trump recognized Jerusalem – making Jared Kushner’s job of solving the Israel-Palestine conflict even more difficult than it already is. Khaldi said the US would lose credibility as a mediator in the Middle East if the US President went ahead with the move. Kushner had earlier said Trump hadn’t made a final decision.
On the call with Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other regional leaders, Abbas warned Trump that moving the embassy could have “dangerous consequences.”
Readouts of the calls are expected later Tuesday.
Trump was expected to announce as soon as Wednesday that the US would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move its embassy there (though some expected that he would delay the embassy move, but stress that he would eventually like to do so, according to local Israeli media.)
Israel considers Jerusalem its true capital, and the western part of the city is host to many of the Israeli state’s administrative functions.
If Trump follows through with what he told Abbas, his actions this week would be considerably more dramatic than anticipated.