Palestinians Warn: Peace Talks Dead if U.S. Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's Capital

Trump may announce decision in speech Wednesday; Abbas lobbies Egypt and Turkey to stop move; Hamas calls for popular uprising against 'conspiracy'

Senior Palestinian officials have cautioned over the weekend U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital or the relocation of the American embassy from Tel Aviv will put an end to peace talks.

President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeinah, said Saturday that such a step is a dangerous development that would destabilize the region, while Hamas has called for a popular uprising to thwart such a "conspiracy."

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas walks to speaks to the media after his meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah  at the Royal Palace in Amman, Jordan October 22, 2017. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed
MUHAMMAD HAMED/REUTERS

Word of Trump's planned announcement, which would deviate from previous U.S. presidents who have insisted the Jerusalem's status must be decided in negotiations, also drew criticism from the Arab League, whose Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Saturday such a move would fuel extremism and violence.

As part of efforts to block Trump from following through with the move, Abbas spoke Saturday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi and Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar.

On Thursday, it emerged that President Donald Trump is expected to sign the presidential waiver delaying the embassy move, breaking his campaign promise on the matter for the second time since entering the White House. Meanwhile, however, senior administration official said that Trump is likely to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital in a speech on Wednesday. The White House has remained officially mum on the subject.

Palestinian intelligence chief Majid Faraj is currently in Washington for talks with senior administration officials, as is Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the PLO Executive Committee and chief Palestinian negotiator. Erekat echoed the warnings, telling Al-Jazeera that any U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital is "playing with fire."

Jordan's King Abdullah II warned senior officials in the Trump administration and members of Congress that moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would cause damage to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and strengthen terror organizations in the Middle East. 

In meetings on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, the king said that "moving the embassy at this stage would have implications on the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim scene, and would threaten the two-state solution." He added that the embassy move could also be "exploited by terrorists to stoke anger, frustration and desperation in order to spread their ideologies."