Abbas urges Trump to drop embassy move pledge

AFP , Friday 6 Jan 2017

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Photo: Reuters)

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Friday warned US President-elect Donald Trump that moving the American embassy to Jerusalem would be crossing a "red line" and could jeopardise peace prospects.

"Any statement or position that disrupts or changes the status of Jerusalem is a red line which we will not accept," he said in a speech, a transcript of which was published by the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Trump has said he plans to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in a controversial move bitterly opposed by Palestinians as a unilateral action while the status of the city remains contested.

Abbas said that if the embassy was moved "the peace process in the Middle East, and even peace in the world, will be in severe trouble."

He called on Trump to visit the Palestinian territories.

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

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.

Trump has said he will move the embassy to Jerusalem and has nominated David Friedman, a bankruptcy attorney, as his ambassador.

Friedman supports settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank, characterised by successive US administrations as an "obstacle to peace."

In a Trump transition team statement last month, Friedman said he wanted to work for peace and looked forward to "doing this from the US embassy in Israel's eternal capital, Jerusalem".

Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway said last month told a radio channel moving the embassy was a "very big priority" for Trump.

Israel captured Arab east Jerusalem in the Six-Day War of 1967 and subsequently annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

Previous presidents, including George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, reneged on election commitments to move the embassy.

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