Abbas Urges Trump to Drop Idea of Moving Embassy to Jerusalem

  • Cites ‘devastating’ impact on peace efforts, Mideast stability
  • Palestinian leader asks other countries to persuade Trump

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sent a letter to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump urging him to scrap plans to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, for the sake of peace and stability in the Middle East.

Abbas sent similar messages to the Arab League and several other countries, including Russia, China and France, asking them to work to avert the embassy transfer.

Such a step would have “devastating effects on the peace process, the two-state solution and the security and stability of the region,” the letter to Trump said, according to an e-mailed statement from Abbas’s office in Ramallah. Spokesmen for Trump didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Israel considers Jerusalem its capital but members of the international community don’t accept its claim to the eastern part of the city -- captured from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war -- and keep their embassies in Tel Aviv instead. The U.S. Congress voted in 1995 to move the embassy to Jerusalem, but the step has been postponed by presidential waiver every six months because of Palestinian objections. 

The UN Security Council recently defined east Jerusalem as occupied Palestinian territory. The Palestinians also object to moving the embassy to west Jerusalem, which was Israeli territory before 1967.

Trump said during the presidential campaign that he intends to move the embassy, and his ambassador-designate David Friedman said in a Dec. 16 statement that he looks forward to working “from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

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