Arab warnings mount as U.S. suggests shift to name Jerusalem as Israeli capital

JERUSALEM — Arab nations and Palestinian officials have warned of dire consequences if the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, including potential unrest and an end to the peace process, amid last-minute lobbying to prevent President Trump from making the move.

In a late-night call Sunday, Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, warned Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that such a decision could “trigger anger across the Arab and Muslim world, fuel tension and jeopardize peace efforts,” according to Jordan’s state news agency.

Egypt’s foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, also discussed with Tillerson the “possible negative impacts” on peace, according to a ministry spokesman. He asked that Tillerson avoid taking decisions that could “stir tensions in the region.”

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyadh Malki called for an emergency meeting of the 22 members of the Arab League, which is expected to take place Tuesday.

(Kushner says Mideast peace is essential to thwarting Iran and Islamist extremism)

For more than two decades, successive U.S. presidents have signed a waiver every six months that allows them to delay a move of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on national security grounds.

Israel claims Jerusalem in its entirety as its eternal and undivided capital, but Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state. During his campaign, Trump promised he would relocate the U.S. Embassy but reluctantly signed the waiver six months ago as his administration attempts to broker a peace process.

Palestinians face a challenge in garnering genuinely robust opposition at a time when Arab states increasingly see their security interests aligned with Israel’s in order to curb their shared enemy, Iran.

Speaking at the Knesset on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed an “unprecedented” shift in the attitude of Arab states toward Israel.

The regional power broker, Saudi Arabia, has yet to issue a public statement condemning a possible U.S. decision on Jerusalem. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and presidential adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner reportedly held late-night discussions on Middle East strategy.

Kushner said Sunday that Trump is “close” to making a decision on whether to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital but is “still looking at a lot of facts.”

The White House is mulling a proposal to delay moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, but — as a compromise measure — make a formal declaration that the city is the capital of Israel.

Palestinian officials have warned that a such a declaration will mark the end of any U.S.-brokered peace efforts.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last month expressed surprise after the United States threatened to close down the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Washington office unless the Palestinians engaged in meaningful peace talks.

The State Department has warned embassies of potential unrest and anti-American protests this week related to an announcement, according to U.S. officials.

Heba Farouk Mahfouz in Cairo contributed to this report.

Source: Washington Post


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