Abbas: U.S. Embassy Is a New Settlement in Jerusalem

Palestinian leader says that by moving U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, Trump has 'canceled its role in the peace process'

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas is pictured during his visit to the stadium of Chilean football club "Palestino", in Santiago, on May 10, 2018.  / AFP PHOTO / CLAUDIO REYES

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's spokesman said on Monday that the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem would create incitement and instability in the region and ruled out Washington as being a mediator for Middle East peace. Abbas also said that the embassy was a "new settlement" in Jerusalem.

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"With this step, the U.S. administration has cancelled its role in the peace process and has insulted the world, the Palestinian people and the Arab and the Islamic nation and it has created incitement and instability," said Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeineh. 

The U.S. officially opened its embassy in Jerusalem Monday afternoon amid clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians at the Gaza border that have killed dozens of protesters and wounded hundreds more.

Abbas ordered the Palestinian leadership council, the PLO acting committee and the Fatah central committee, to meet to discuss the situation in Gaza.

Trump, in a recorded message at a ceremony opening the U.S. embassy, said on Monday he remained committed to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem will be remembered in Israel for generations. 

"This is a great day. A great day for Jerusalem. A great day for the state of Israel. A day that will be engraved in our national memory for generations," Netanyahu said in a speech at the embassy's opening ceremony. 

Netanyahu thanked Trump for "having the courage" to keep his promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. 

Netanyahu concluded his speech calling Jerusalem the "eternal, undivided capital of Israel."

About 800 people were gathered in the courtyard of the former U.S. consulate, now the U.S. Embassy, in the Arnona neighborhood of southern Jerusalem for the ceremony. While some in the crowd displayed apprehension over the rising death toll at the Gaza border, the general atmosphere was one of excitement. 

Seated at the front beside Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, were the family members of Trump, who was absent at the event, Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and top adviser, and her husband, Jared Kushner, Trump's senior adviser tasked with facilitating a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Members of the U.S. delegation also included Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and Finance Minister Steven Mnuchin. The audience included Republican mega-donor and Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, whose presence in the front row signified their contribution to the embassy's opening.