Abbas Recalls Palestinian Envoy in Washington Over Jerusalem Embassy Move

According to senior Palestinian officials, the envoy is already heading home

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with the UN secretary general at the United Nations headquarters in New York, September 20, 2017.
ANGELA WEISS/AFP

President Mahmoud Abbas recalled the Palestinian envoy in Washington, a senior Palestinian official told Reuters. 

Husam Zomlot, the Palestine Liberation Organization's chief representative in Washington, was already on his way back to the Palestinian Territories, Saeb Erekat, senior Palestinian negotiator, said. A foreign ministry statement carried by the official Wafa news agency said the decision "follows the moving of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem." 

"When they (the U.S.) opened their embassy in Jerusalem there was a need for a decision from our side and this was our decision," Zomlot told the Associated Press. 

>> Analysis: Dozens of Palestinian Deaths in Gaza Didn't Disturb Netanyahu's 'Great Day for Peace' in Jerusalem

The recall comes a day after the United States officially opened its embassy in Jerusalem amid clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians at the Gaza border that killed dozens of protesters and wounded hundreds more.

In his address at the ceremony official ceremony celebrating the U.S. embassy move, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of the embassy's opening "this is history" and, addressing the U.S. president, said: "Trump, by recognizing history, you have made history."

Palestinians throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem were urged to turn out en masse to protest the move. In Ramallah and El Bireh, the marches started at 11 A.M. and proceed to the Qalandiyah Checkpoint near Jerusalem. Marchers also set out from other cities, including Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus and Jericho. Thousands of policemen were deployed throughout Jerusalem in preparation.

Meanwhile, clashes erupted at the Gaza border between Israeli security forces and tens of thousands of Palestinians protesting the embassy move. Dozens of protesters were killed by Israeli live fire and hundreds more were wounded. The Israeli military struck several Hamas targets in Gaza.

Condemnations of the embassy move and the Gaza deaths were heard throughout the Middle East and the world. 

Belgium summoned the Israeli ambassador, Simona Frankel, to a meeting on Wednesday with a senior official of the Foreign Ministry as diplomatic fallout from Gaza deadly clashes continue. Belgium's prime minister on Monday called for an international probe of the events in Gaza while linking the violence to the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

The Irish government also summoned the Israeli ambassador, Zeev Boker, to express its shock and dismay over the Gaza deaths, the Irish Times reported Tuesday. Ireland has called for an independent UN investigation.

On Monday, South Africa recalled its ambassador to Israel due to the death toll in Gaza. "The South Africa government condemns in the strongest terms possible the latest act of violent aggression carried out by Israeli armed forces along the Gaza border," the Department of International Relations and Cooperation said in a statement.

Other countries, including France and Germany, have condemned Israel's reaction to Monday's protests. Australia, on the other hand, has blamed Hamas for "confrontational" conduct.