MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) — President Donald Trump outlined his intentions to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in a call with President Mahmoud Abbas Tuesday according to Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh.
The Palestinians said that Abbas warned Trump in the call against the dangers of such a step and added that he would continue reaching out to world leaders to prevent it from happening. Neither the White House nor the Palestinians offered details on the timing of an embassy move, which previous administrations have delayed indefinitely.
Despite strong pushback from US allies and concerns about the safety of US military and diplomatic personnel in the region, Trump is insisting that he fulfill campaign promises about Jerusalem.
Previous US presidents have pledged to move the embassy from Tel Aviv, in accordance with US law, but have used waivers to delay the shift in recognition of the thorny problems such a move would create.
Key US allies have raised those potential pitfalls with the White House in response to reports that the administration is planning to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or move the US embassy to the holy city at some point.
Turkey’s leader declared Tuesday that such a move would be a “fatal mistake” that would spark fresh conflict in the Middle East.
The resistance from allies is reportedly leading to debate within the administration on how to balance the move with recognition of Palestinian claims to Jerusalem and may delay an announcement, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
“Any announcement prior to a final settlement would have a detrimental impact on the peace process and would heighten tensions in the region,” Prince Khalid bin Salman, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, said in a statement to CNN.
In a phone call with Trump on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed similar thoughts, according to a readout provided by the French Foreign Ministry.
The French President shared his concern about the possibility that the United States might unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, according to the statement.
Macron reaffirmed the standard international position that the status of Jerusalem should be resolved through peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, “and particularly those relating to the establishment of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security with Jerusalem as their capital,” the statement said.
White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley, briefing reporters aboard Air Force One on Monday, addressed the question of whether Trump will act to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but didn’t take up the question of recognition.
“The President has been clear on this issue from the get-go that it’s not a matter of if but a matter of when. No action, though, will be taken on the waiver today. And we will declare a decision on the waiver in the coming days,” Gidley said.
Florida Governor Rick Scott said last week he believes the U.S. embassy belongs in Jerusalem and should be moved from Tel Aviv.
“I strongly believe that the U.S. Embassy belongs in Jerusalem and I am hopeful that a decision will be made to finally move the embassy to its rightful destination in Israel’s capital city,” said Scott in a statemen issued on November 29th.
The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 requires the embassy to be moved to Jerusalem or face the financial penalty of losing half the State Department’s appropriated funding for the acquisition and maintenance of buildings abroad. Every six months, however, presidents can sign a waiver to avoid these penalties on national security grounds.
The Saudi ambassador added that Saudi Arabia was working with the Trump administration on a possible Mideast peace settlement and remains committed to a solution “based on the 1967 borders including east Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. We are working with the President’s peace negotiation team to achieve a fair and just settlement.”
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