Trump Tells Abbas, Jordan's Abdullah He Intends to Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

Senior U.S. officials say Trump is likely to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital Wednesday and delay embassy relocation for another six months, yet begin planning the move immediately ■ Fatah begins preparations for protest rallies

Trump visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on May 22, 2017.
Trump visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on May 22, 2017. MANDEL NGAN/AFP

U.S. President Donald Trump told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah that he plans to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Tuesday, according to Abbas' spokesman and Jordanian reports. Trump also called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi and Saudi King Salman to inform them of the decision.

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Trump will deliver remarks about his decision on whether to move the  embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv on Wednesday, the White House said Tuesday, adding that Trump is pretty solid in his thinking on the issue. Senior U.S. officials said Tuesday Trump is likely to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital while delaying relocating the embassy from Tel Aviv for another six months, though he is expected to order his aides to begin planning such a move immediately. The officials said, however, that no final decisions have been made.

Following the call, Abbas urged the Pope and the leaders of Russia, France and Jordan to intervene against Trump's declared intention to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Abbas's spokesman said. 

During the call with Trump, Abbas warned that the action will have "dangerous consequences," said Abbas' spokesman, adding that "the Palestinian stance is determined and steadfast - there will not be a Palestinian state without East Jerusalem as its capital according to decisions by the international community." Abbas was holding an emergency meeting in his bureau following the phone conversation with Trump.

Abdullah also warned Trump of the decision's repercussions on Middle East security and stability. Abdullah pledged he would thwart any American initiative to renew the peace process and would encourage resistance among Muslims and Christians alike.

King Salman told Trump that transferring the embasy is a dangerous step that will inflame feelings of Muslims.

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Following their conversatisons with Trump, Abdullah and Abbas reportedly spoke and decided to act in complete coordination following Trump's decision.

Meanwhile, Israeli ministers were instructed on Tuesday not to speak publicly about the embassy crisis, at the request of the White House.

In the West Bank, the Fatah movement has begun preparations for marches and rallies following Trump's announcement. Heads of Palestinians factions in the West Bank are slated to hold a meeting later Tuesday evening to coordinate protest moves.

A senior Fatah official told Haaretz that "the Palestinian Authority is interested in carrying out marches of rage and protest, but there's no intention to break the rules or lead to a frontal confrontation with Israel like the one that took place during the Second Intifada."

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On Tuesday, an Abbas aide commented that if the Trump Administration decides to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the Palestinian leadership would sever ties with the U.S. administration.

A senior administration official said last week that Trump would likely make the announcement to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Wednesday, a decision that breaks with decades of U.S. policy and could fuel violence in the Middle East. 

The Trump administration announced Monday that it had not yet reached a decision yet on whether or not to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, despite the fact that Monday was the legal deadline to sign a presidential waiver on the matter.

EU warns Trump against recognizing Jerusalem as Israeli capital Haaretz/Reuters

Leaders of the Middle East and Europe expressed serious concern about Trump's looming decision on Jerusalem Tuesday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that if Trump goes ahead with the decision, Turkey will cut diplomatic ties with Israel. He added that Jerusalem is "a red line for Muslims." Israel responded that "Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital for 3,000 years."

Egypt has warned of "possible dangerous repercussions" if U.S. President Donald Trump follows through on plans to recognize contested Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Egypt's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry had discussed the matter with his French counterpart. It said they called on the Trump administration to wait and reconsider.

According to Saudi media, an official source at the Saudi Foreign Ministry said that Trump's potential recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital would have "very serious implications" and would be seen as "provocative to all Muslims' feelings." 

Arab League Chief Ahmed Abdoul Gheit said Tuesday that any step changing Jerusalem's status quo would be a "dangerous measure that would have repercussions" throughout the Middle East. He encouraged Trump to reconsider his decision.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said that any action would undermine a two-state solution, and must be avoided. 

German and French leaders also expressed concern at Trump's potential decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. French President Emmanuel Macron said the Jerusalem issue must be dealt with "in the framework of peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians."

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Tuesday that "direct negotiations between the two parties," are the only way to solve the issue of Jerusalem, taking stab at Trump by saying that "there is a limit in our solidarity" regarding U.S.-German relations.

Twenty-five former Israeli ambassadors, academics and peace activists on Monday expressed their opposition to Trump's potential unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. "We are deeply concerned by recent reports that President Trump is seriously considering the announcement of his decision to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel," a letter to Trump's Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt said.