US embassy move would 'end peace process': PLO official

AFP , Saturday 20 May 2017

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (L) and Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat participate in the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa at the King Hussein Convention Centre at the Dead Sea May 20, 2017 (Photo: Reuters)

Moving the American embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would end the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, a senior Palestinian official said Saturday.

"We believe that moving the US embassy to Jerusalem would mean the end of the peace process," Saeb Erekat, second-in-command of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), said days ahead of a visit to the region by US President Donald Trump.

Trump promised during his election campaign to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, whose status is one of the thorniest issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The new US ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who took up office on Monday, has also backed the move.

There has been no movement so far on the pledge which would break with decades of American policy on the city, home to some of the holiest sites in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The Palestinians and the Arab world fiercely oppose such a move which the international community has warned could spark fresh unrest.

"I hope that President Trump would give us a chance," Erekat said at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa at the Jordanian Dead Sea resort of Sweimeh.

"He said... he will not impose solutions on us or on the Israelis," Erekat said. "(But) the fact that he is going to move the embassy is imposition, is dictation."

Erekat said a Palestinian state without east Jerusalem as its capital would have "no meaning".

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

Trump, who arrived in Saudi Arabia Saturday on his first foreign tour since taking office, is set to visit Israel on Monday and the occupied Palestinian territories on Tuesday.

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