Trump to move US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

The move would would effectively give legitimacy to Israel's claim over East Jerusalem

Trump to move US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

Picture by: Susan Walsh/AP/Press Association Images

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has warned that US President Donald Trump intends to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

The embassy is currently in Tel Aviv, and moving it to Jerusalem could have serious consequences for the Middle East.

It would effectively give legitimacy to Israel's claim over the entire city and end decades of US policy stipulating that the city's status must be decided in negotiations with the Palestinians

Israel considers the whole of the city as its "eternal, undivided capital" - but East Jerusalem is considered illegally occupied under international law.

Palestinians view the Eastern part of the city as their own capital.

The city is home to sites that are holy to Muslims, Jews and Christians.

Dangerous consequences

A statement from Mr Abbas's office said Mr Trump had called the president and told him of "his intention to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem."

The statement said Mr Abbas "warned of the dangerous consequences of such a decision on the peace process, security and stability in the region and the world."

World leaders have warned such a move would inflame tensions in the region – and Mr Abbas has previously warned the Trump administration that it would kill off the peace process and strip the US of its role as honest broker.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has also spoken to Mr Trump about the plan and told him there was no need to "complicate" matters in the region, a statement from the Cairo government said.

France's President Emmanuel Macron also called Mr Trump and reminded him the future of Jerusalem should be determined in negotiations on setting up a Palestinian state.

"Recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel does not calm a conflict, rather it fuels it even more," Germany's foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, told reporters at NATO HQ in Brussels.

Israel's mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, said on Tuesday that moving the embassy can take "two minutes."

"They just take the symbol of the consulate and switch it to the embassy symbol - two American Marines can do it in two minutes, and give the ambassador David Friedman a space to sit in," Mr Barkat told Israel Radio.

Relocation

Senior US officials have said President Trump is likely to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital tomorrow.

They said the relocation would probably happen in around six months' time but planning would begin straight away.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and annexed it - but that move was not recognised internationally.

Last year, the UN Security Council reaffirmed that Israel’s establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 was a “flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the vision of two States living side-by-side in peace and security, within internationally recognized borders.”