Palestinian Envoy Warns: Trump Move on Jerusalem a 'Declaration of War'

The Palestinian envoy to Britain calls Trump's change on Jerusalem policy 'a kiss of death to the two-state solution,' while the Pope and Mideast countries express acute concern

Palestinian protesters burn pictures of US President Donald Trump at the manger square in Bethlehem on December 5, 2017.
Palestinian protesters burn pictures of US President Donald Trump at the manger square in Bethlehem on December 5, 2017. MUSA AL SHAER/AFP

U.S. President Donald Trump would effectively be making a declaration of war if he recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the Palestinians' chief representative to Britain said on Wednesday. 

"If he says what he is intending to say about Jerusalem being the capital of Israel, it means a kiss of death to the two state solution," Manuel Hassassian said in a BBC radio interview.

"He is declaring war in the Middle East, he is declaring war against 1.5 billion Muslims (and) hundreds of millions of Christians that are not going to accept the holy shrines to be totally under the hegemony of Israel," Hassassian added.

The Palestinian prime minister says President Donald Trump's expected recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel's capital is bound to "destroy the peace process and the two-state solution."

Palestinian protesters burn the U.S. and Israeli flags in Gaza City on December 6, 2017.
MAHMUD HAMS/AFP

Rami Hamdallah met with European diplomats on Wednesday and urged European countries to recognize a state of Palestine on the lands captured by Israel in 1967.

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On Wednesday, hundreds of Palestinians gathered on the streets of Gaza City to protest Trump's announcement. The demonstration was organized by different Palestinian factions and militant groups which called for Palestinian unity in response to Trump's expected announcement.

The protesters burned American and Israeli flags.

They also waved Palestinian flags and banners proclaiming Jerusalem as "our eternal capital" and calling it a "red line."

Hamas official Salah Bardawil said the Palestinians were "on a dangerous crossroad today; we either remain or perish." He added that "Trump or anyone thinking that our people, nation and resistance are unable to push back his plans is wrong."

Hamas' politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh told Al-Jazeera TV that "our Palestinian people will have a suitable response. As a people, we cannot accept this American pattern."

In the meantime, Britain itself expressed concern over the change in American policy on Jerusalem, with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson saying: "We view reports that we've heard with concern."

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He told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday that Britain thinks "Jerusalem obviously should be part of the final settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians — a negotiated settlement that we want to see."

Johnson added: "We have no plans ourselves to move our embassy."

Pope Francis also sounded his dismay over the upcoming move, saying recent developments made him "profoundly concerned."

Also on Wednesday, the Turkish presidential spokesman declared that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation will meet on December 13 to coordinate a joint response on Trump's Jerusalem move.

The Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim decried no Wednesday President Donald Trump's expected recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital will make the region's problems "unresolvable."

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim spoke about the possibility at a news conference with South Korean officials in Seoul. Yildirim said it was vital for the Middle Eastern region and for global peace that Trump not make such an announcement.

The prime minister added that a declaration could cause religious clashes and destroy efforts toward formation of a Palestinian state.

The Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, claimed that the "whole world is against" President Donald Trump's move. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem would be a "grave mistake," he added.

In Lebanon, two leading newspapers issued front page rebukes to President Trump, with An-Nahar comparing the American president to the late British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, who a hundred years ago famously promised Palestine as a national home to the Jewish People, in what is known as the Balfour declaration.

The paper's Wednesday headline reads: "Trump, Balfour of the century, gifts Jerusalem to Israel."

The English-language Daily Star newspaper has published a full-page photo of Old City of Jerusalem capped by the Dome of the Rock beneath the headline: "No offense Mr. President, Jerusalem is the capital of PALESTINE."

Senior U.S. officials said on Tuesday that Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Wednesday and set in motion the relocation of the U.S. embassy to the city.