x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 13 December 2017

Palestinians try to rally world leaders against Trump Jerusalem move

Reports suggest the US president could be about to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas listens while US president Donald Trump makes a statement for the press before a meeting at the Palace Hotel in New York during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2017. Brendan Smialowski / AFP
Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas listens while US president Donald Trump makes a statement for the press before a meeting at the Palace Hotel in New York during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2017. Brendan Smialowski / AFP

Palestinian leaders were on Sunday trying to rally diplomatic support to persuade US president Donald Trump not to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital after suggestions that he planned to do so.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas was holding a series of phone calls with world leaders to "explain the dangers of any decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem or recognise [Jerusalem] as Israel's capital", said Mr Abbas's diplomatic adviser, Majdi Al Khalidi.

His calls so far have included those to Arab leaders, French president Emmanuel Macron and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Mr Erdogan told Mr Abbas that an independent Palestinian state must have east Jerusalem as its capital, Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Mr Abbas was also said to be seeking an emergency summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League to discuss the issue.

_____________

Read more:

US warned of ‘intifada’ if Jerusalem is recognised as the capital of Israel

King of Jordan holds high level talks in Washington with focus on Syria and the Middle East peace process

Trump likely to delay move of US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

_____________

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, and Palestinian Authority intelligence head Majed Farraj were making contacts in Washington, Mr Al Khalidi said.

He said Mr Abbas was warning "of the consequences of taking such a decision that will threaten the political process and peacemaking efforts".

In addition, Mr Trump is set to decide by Monday whether to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that would upturn long-standing policy and be at odds with other world powers.

Since 1995, it has been US law that Washington's embassy in Israel must be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in line with Israeli government wishes.

But every six months since the law was passed, a succession of US presidents has signed a waiver to hold off on a switch that would enrage Palestinians and their Arab supporters.

Mr Trump has signed the waiver once after vowing to Jewish-American supporters that he would be the president to finally make the switch permanent.

The next deadline comes on Monday, and some reports in Washington suggest that Mr Trump is planning a speech on the issue next week before US vice president Mike Pence heads to Jerusalem.

The White House has described reports that he may refuse to sign the waiver as premature - but sources said they expect Mr Trump to formally declare Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

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

Israel claims the entire city as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.

The traditional US position has been that Jerusalem's future status must be negotiated by the two sides.

There have been warnings that recognising the city as Israel's capital or moving the embassy there outside of negotiations would severely harm remaining chances for a two-state solution to the conflict.