- Trump's looming Jerusalem embassy decision sparks diplomatic fallout
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U.S. President Donald Trump spoke on Tuesday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and is scheduled to speak with King Abdullah of Jordan and Prime Minister Netanyahu amid reports the United States is planning to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the White House confirmed.
"The president has calls scheduled this morning with Prime Minister Netanyahu, King Abdullah of Jordan and Palestinian Authority President Abbas. We will have a readout on these calls later today," White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
Sanders says Trump is likely to speak with other counterparts Tuesday. She did not identify them, as those calls haven't been confirmed.
A senior administration official said last week that Trump would likely make the announcement on Wednesday, a decision that would break with decades of U.S. policy and could fuel violence in the Middle East. Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner said the president had not yet made a final decision.
The Trump administration on Monday said that it has not reached a decision yet on whether or not to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, despite the fact that Monday was the legal deadline for signing a presidential waiver on the matter. A White House spokesperson said that "no action will be taken on the waiver today. We will share a decision on the waiver in the coming days."
Middle Eastern regional stability may hang in the balance as the expectation of the Trump administration to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem or formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital spurred diplomatic fallout throughout the region.
An aide of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas commented Tuesday that if the Trump Administration decides to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the Palestinian leadership would sever ties with the U.S. administration. Nabil Shaath, a senior Palestinian official, had especially harsh words for Trump, saying "the mother of all the deals dies here on the rocks in Jerusalem if he says tomorrow that he recognizes a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel." On Saturday, Hamas leaders called for a popular uprising to thwart the ongoing "conspiracy."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that if Trump goes ahead with the decision, Turkey will cut diplomatic ties with Israel. He added that Jerusalem is "a red line for Muslims." Israel responded that "Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital for 3,000 years."
Jordan's King Abdullah II warned of the consequences of the decision on Friday, saying that it "raised alarm and concern" and could "hamper all efforts to get the peace process moving."
Twenty-five former Israeli ambassadors, academics and peace activists on Monday also expressed their opposition to Trump's potential unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. "We are deeply concerned by recent reports that President Trump is seriously considering the announcement of his decision to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel," a letter to Trump's Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt said.
Theoretically, the White House's announcement allows Congress to demand the administration to begin moving the embassy, since Trump did not sign the presidential waiver in time. Congress could also cut funding from the State Department if the administration doesn't fulfill its' obligations under the 1995 "Jerusalem Embassy Act." However, it is unlikely that the Republican-controlled Congress would act on this issue in the coming days, which means that Trump has a window of at least a few days to make a final decision on the waiver.
Reuters contributed to this report.