The United States and most UN member states do not recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and the city's status is one of the thorniest issues of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict
The United States and most UN member states do not recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and the city's status is one of the thorniest issues of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict © Ahmad Gharabli - AFP/File
The United States and most UN member states do not recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and the city's status is one of the thorniest issues of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict
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AFP
Last updated: January 11, 2017

Palestinians seek to mobilise Middle East against Trump embassy move

Banner Icon Palestinian leaders on Tuesday called for prayers at mosques across the Middle East this week to protest plans by President-elect Donald Trump to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

There have been warnings that moving the US embassy to the contested city and recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital could inflame tensions in the Middle East and possibly sink what remains of peace efforts.

Mohammad Shtayyeh, a senior Palestinian official and Fatah central committee member who was speaking on behalf of the Palestinian leadership, said doing so would mean an "end to the two-state solution".

He said the Palestinian leadership had been informed by diplomatic contacts that Trump could call for the move in his inauguration speech on January 20.

Palestinian leaders are considering whether to withdraw their recognition of Israel if the move goes through, he said.

They have added the issue to the agenda of a meeting of foreign ministers from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on January 19 in Malaysia, he added.

Shtayyeh called for prayers at mosques throughout the Middle East on Friday as well as for churches to ring bells in protest on Sunday.

"I think and we all think that moving the embassy to Jerusalem is a dangerous step that will have dangerous consequences for the political track for our people and for our future aspirations and for the Muslim, Arab, Christian countries and people all over the world," said Shtayyeh.

"We are not inciting violence. Ringing a church bell... is not a violent act. Calling for a prayer is not a violent act," he told journalists in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has written to Trump urging him not to move the embassy.

The Palestinians regard Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while Israel proclaims the entire city as its capital.

The city's status is one of the thorniest issues of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.

'Indications negative'

A UN Security Council resolution passed on December 23 called for a stop to Israeli settlement building in Palestinian territory.

In a rare move, the United States did not use its veto and abstained, enabling the adoption of the first UN resolution since 1979 to condemn Israel over its settlement policy.

Trump has signalled he will pursue far more favourable policy toward Israel and called for US President Barack Obama's administration to veto the resolution.

France is to hold an international conference on January 15 including some 70 nations aimed at helping restart long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

Israel has rejected it and called for direct talks, while the Palestinians have welcomed the gathering.

The conference will take place without the Israelis and Palestinians, though Abbas is to meet French President Francois Hollande on January 16 to be briefed on the proceedings, according to Shtayyeh.

Shtayyeh said he hoped the conference would put a multilateral peace process in motion.

But he added "all indications are negative" when it comes to Trump, citing his rejection of the UN resolution and some of his appointments.

Trump has nominated David Friedman, a supporter of Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank, as his ambassador to the Jewish state.

Also on Tuesday, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman accused Abbas of having given "direct instructions" to imams for incitement inside mosques.

He appeared to make reference to a truck-ramming attack on Sunday by a Palestinian in Jerusalem that killed four soldiers.

"Everything we have seen in recent days is on the direct instructions of (Abbas) to the imams for incitement in the mosques," Lieberman said while visiting an Israeli military base in the West Bank.

"This, to my regret, has a direct effect on the ground."

Israel has long blamed incitement by Palestinian leaders and media as a leading cause of violence.

Many analysts say Palestinian frustration with the Israeli occupation and settlement building in the West Bank, comatose peace efforts and their own fractured leadership have helped feed the unrest.

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