Jordan warns Trump against recognising Jerusalem as Israeli capital

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U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after Trump's address at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Jordan on Sunday warned US President Donald Trump of “dangerous consequences” if he recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, amid speculation that such a move could come this week.

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said he had raised the matter with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “Such a decision would trigger anger across Arab Muslim worlds, fuel tension & jeopardize peace efforts,” he wrote on Twitter.

Earlier on Sunday, Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has been tasked with leading US efforts to negotiate peace between Israel and the Palestinians, said the president had not yet made his mind up on the move.

“The president is going to make his decision,” Kushner told a Brookings Institution think tank gathering about the Middle East in Washington. “He’s still looking at a lot of different facts.”

Trump is reportedly considering announcing a move as soon as Wednesday, in what would mark a major shift in decades of US policy by both Republican and Democratic administrations.

The US has long argued that the status of Jerusalem, which both Israelis and Palestinians claim as their capital, must be decided as part of a peace process.

Trump’s announcement would come alongside a deadline on whether to sign a twice-yearly waiver of a law that keeps the US embassy in Tel Aviv.

Kushner, who was making his first public remarks on the Middle East since taking on the portfolio, said his diplomatic team was “very focused on the deal.”

Palestinian officials had warned earlier Sunday that Trump should not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and would risk jeopardizing the peace process if he does so.

“This is a step that will end any chance of a peace process,” Naabil Shaath, a senior advisor to Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas told dpa on Sunday.

“A peace process that starts with taking away our most holy of places is not a starter, it is a destruction,” Shaath added.

Abbas has launched a diplomatic campaign, speaking with Arab and international leaders, to sideline any Trump announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, Shaath said.

The PA president had warned international leaders that such a move would “send the region into a dangerous phase, whose results cannot be controlled,” according to Wafa, the official PA news agency.

Aboul Gheit, secretary general of the Arab League, said on Saturday that a change in US policy would “nurture extremism and violence.”

US presidents have refrained from recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in hopes of remaining neutral so that the city’s contested borders would be determined by long-hoped-for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Israel considers Jerusalem to be its unified capital and has long urged the US to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the ancient city. However, the PA government says East Jerusalem must be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Israel captured the eastern half of Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East War and annexed the territory in a move that was not internationally recognized.

The US maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv, despite a law that has been in place for more than two decades requiring the embassy to be moved to Jerusalem.

Presidents both Democrat and Republican have consistently waived the requirement every six months, claiming such a move would violate US national security interests and endanger the peace process.

Trump had vowed during his presidential campaign to change the long-standing policy.

credit: NAN

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