Senior Palestinian officials have warned that the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s recognition of Israel – one of the key pillars of the moribund Oslo peace agreements – is in danger of being revoked if Donald Trump moves the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Palestinian leadership is also calling for protests in mosques and churches on Friday and Sunday to object to the move, calling for opposition to the plan “from Pakistan to Tehran, from Lebanon to Oman”.
Moving the US embassy to Jerusalem is highly contentious as it would recognise Israel’s exclusive claim to the city, most of which was annexed illegally after the 1967 war. The Palestinians also see it as their future capital.
Senior Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh told reporters on Tuesday that any move to relocate the US embassy would provoke a reaction. “One of the measures we are considering seriously is the issue of mutual recognition between the PLO and Israel. [It] is not valid any more doing this,” he said referring to the proposed embassy move.
The warning came amid increasingly stark warnings over the risk of an “explosion of violence” in the region if the US embassy is moved, and after Abbas himself wrote to Trump to reconsider, citing the dangers in the move.
In his letter – disclosed on Monday and also copied to other world leaders – Abbas told Trump moving the embassy “will likely have [a] disastrous impact on the peace process, on the two-state solution and on the stability and security of the entire region, since Israel’s decision to annex East Jerusalem contradicts with international law”.
The comments came after the officials said they had been told by diplomatic contacts that Trump may be preparing to announce the relocation of the US embassy during his inauguration speech on 20 January. CNN reported on Monday that Trump’s transition team had told “allies”.
Palestinians have also been alarmed by Trump’s appointment of figures who have supported Jewish settlement building in the occupied territories.
Friedman himself – an extreme rightwinger who has compared liberal US Jews to kapos or concentration camp guards chosen from among the prisoners – made clear on his appointment that he looked forward to taking up his post in Jerusalem.
The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, had floated the idea of revoking recognition of Israel at a conference in Washington last month, a proposal that has gained momentum ahead of a peace conference in Paris on Sunday on the Middle East peace process.
Briefing journalists on diplomatic moves ahead of that gathering of some 70 countries in the French capital, Shtayyeh reinforced recent statements by other senior Palestinian politicians and warned that the two-state solution would not be able to survive a move by the Trump administration that would be seen in the Arab world as a unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Shtayyeh also suggested that such a move would also be a breach of US commitments under the 1995 Oslo peace agreement. “The US is a witness to the Oslo agreement, signed in the White House in front of President Clinton. This is an international commitment.” Agencies