Palestinians Cancel D.C. Christmas Party Ahead of Trump's Jerusalem Announcement

Palestinian delegation to U.S. cancels 'Bethlehem Christmas on the Hill,' saying Trump's decision to move embassy 'runs counter to peace'

U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. First Lady Melania Trump attend the 95th Annual National Christmas Tree Lighting in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017.
JIM WATSON/AFP

WASHINGTON – The Palestinian delegation in Washington, D.C., cancelled a Christmas event it was planning to hold on Wednesday evening in light of President Trump's expected announcement on Jerusalem. The event, titled "A Bethlehem Christmas on the Hill," was supposed to take place on Capitol Hill and include U.S. legislators, foreign diplomats and members of the Trump administration.

Jason Greenblatt, Trump's special envoy to the Middle East, was planning to attend the party. 

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The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Office in Washington, DC.
SAUL LOEB/AFP

In a message sent out on Tuesday, after the White House officially announced that Trump will give a speech on Jerusalem, the delegation stated that the event has been cancelled because of Trump's plan to make an announcement that "runs counter to the message of peace." The Palestinian leadership has warned that Trump's announcement would be a "kiss of death" to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

In their email, the PLO delegation explained that the event was supposed to include a video of "Christian leaders and the children of Bethlehem with a Christmas message of peace," and that after it became clear Trump would announce recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the delegation decided it would be "unsuitable for them to speak and sing shortly after an announcement that runs counter to the message of peace."

Trump on Tuesday told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah II he intends to move the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump is expected to speak on the subject on Wednesday.

Past U.S. presidents have insisted that the status of Jerusalem - home to sites holy to the Jewish, Muslim and Christian religions - must be decided in negotiations between the two sides.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed it, declaring the whole of the city as its capital - a move not recognized internationally. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state

Trump suggested earlier this year he was open to new ways to achieve Middle East peace that did not necessarily entail the creation of a Palestinian state, a hallmark of U.S. policy for decades.

Kushner is leading Trump’s efforts to restart long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, efforts that so far have shown little progress.