Trump's Ultimate Deal Will 'Die on the Rocks of Jerusalem,' if U.S. Recognizes Israeli Capital, Palestinians Warn

With Arab world up in arms over potential change to Jerusalem's status, Palestinian officials warn violence could breakout and peace talk could stop

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In this July 25, 2017 file photo, Jerusalem's Old City is seen trough a door with the shape of star of David. Turkey and the Palestinians have warned of dire diplomatic repercussions in the Middle East if President Donald Trump goes ahead with a possible recognition of the hotly contested Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The Arab League with almost two dozen member states was to discuss the controversy later Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.
File photo of Jerusalem's Old City is seen through a door with the shape of the Star of David. Turkey and the Palestinians have warned of dire diplomatic repercussions of such a decision. Credit: Oded Balilty/AP

If U.S. President Donald Trump recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the Palestinian Authority will cut off all relations with the United States and any attempt to move ahead with the Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts stop dead in their tracks, a top Palestinian official said.

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Warning such a move would destroy the credibility of the Americans as mediators, Nabil Shaath echoed the sentiment voiced by numerous Arab countries in the past day.

"So Mr. Trump came up with the slogan of the 'deal of the century,' or 'the mother of all transactions', like Saddam Hussein would say. But the mother of all the deals dies here on the rocks in Jerusalem if he says tomorrow that the U.S. recognizes a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," Shaath told reporters.

"It removes any chance he will play a role in an agreement. There is no deal that begins with the destruction of the two-state solution."

Calling even the possibility of this happening "a bombshell," Shaath, the former Palestinian chief negotiator in peace talks with Israel, said it would "completely destroy any chance for [America] to play the role of an honest broker.”

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Shaath said the Palestinians would turn to other countries to serve as mediators in future peace negotiations should Trump proceed with such a decision on Jerusalem. He mentioned China, Russia or European countries as possible replacements for the lead role the United States has taken for decades.

Shaath also said that although the Palestinian leadership is not looking for the situation to turn violent, playing with the status of the contested city of Jerusalem, claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians as their capital, could spark unrest.

"Everyone has conveyed the message that it would destroy any chance for peace. We do not want to reach violence, but we cannot prevent violence. ISIS is recruiting people to defend Jerusalem," said Shaath.

Even if the American recognition applies only to western Jerusalem, such a declaration would still be outside the international consensus and therefore be considered just as destructive, he added.

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Meanwhile, another senior Palestinian official told Haaretz that the administration received messages from Egypt and Saudi Arabia saying that even if Trump did decide to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's exclusively, they did not expect violence to break out. Both countries, however, issued formal and official statements warning of dire implications in Arab and Islamic countries should a decision like this be issued.

Shaath did not specify whether the threat to break off ties with the United States would include the possibility of not hosting U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during his scheduled visit to the region in two weeks.

Meanwhile, the Arab League met in Cairo Tuesday to discuss the Jerusalem question and warned the U.S. against the move. The group is meeting at the request of the Palestinians and Jordan ahead of Trump's expected speech on Wednesday where he is expected to announce his intentions on Jerusalem.

Ahmed Aboul-Gheit spoke on Tuesday after the meeting in Cairo and said the possible U.S. decision would be a "dangerous measure that would have repercussions" across the entire Mideast region. He also urged the Trump administration to reconsider.

On Tuesday, vociferous Arab and Muslim opposition to any possible U.S. recognition of the hotly contested city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital began.

Turkey threatened to cut ties with Israel; the Palestinians warned they would halt contacts with their U.S. counterparts, and key Washington ally Saudi Arabia spoke out strongly against such a possible step.

The backing of regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia is crucial to any White House plans to promote a possible Mideast peace deal. President Donald Trump has promised to broker the "ultimate deal" but has not divulged details.

His next move concerning Jerusalem remained shrouded in mystery.

U.S. officials have said he may recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital this week as a way to offset the likely decision to delay his campaign promise to move the U.S. Embassy there. Trump's point-man on the Middle East, son-in-law Jared Kushner, later said the president has yet to decide on his decision.



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