PALESTINIAN DEMONSTRATORS set fire to a representation of a US ag during clashes with Israeli troops in Hebron last month, in response to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MUSSA QAWASMA)
RAMALLAH, West Bank/GAZA - Palestinians reacted on Friday with anger to reports that the United States will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem within months, saying this could destroy the prospect of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Clashes erupted in Gaza and the West Bank earlier on Friday in a weekly protest against US President Donald Trump's stance on Jerusalem, which has also angered Arab political and religious leaders across the region and dismayed European allies.
Palestinians claim east Jerusalem -- seized by Israel in 1967 and later annexed -- as the capital of a future state.
Saeb Erekat, senior Palestinian negotiator, said the US move showed a "determination to violate international law, destroy the two-state solution and provoke the feelings of the Palestinian people as well as of all Arabs, Muslims and Christians around the globe."
Erekat, who is also secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said: "Trump and his team have disqualified the US from being part of the solution between Israelis and Palestinians; rather, the world now sees that they are part of the problem."
Trump announced in December that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, setting in motion the embassy move and contravening decades of policy by the international community.
A US official told Reuters on Friday that the United States was expected to open its embassy to Israel in Jerusalem in May. This would be shortly after Israel's 70th anniversary.
"This is an unacceptable step. Any unilateral move will not give legitimacy to anyone and will be an obstacle to any effort to create peace in the region," said Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas.
Abbas has rejected US-led Middle East peace efforts as "impossible" since Washington's decision.
Abu Rdainah said the only way to achieve peace, security and stability was Abbas's proposal -- outlined in an address to the United Nations Security Council in New York on Tuesday -- that an international conference should be held to kick-start the peace process, including a "multilateral mechanism" to oversee it.
Abbas is still in the United States after undergoing medical checks in Baltimore on Thursday but will leave on Saturday, Abu Rdaineh said.
In Gaza, a Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, said: "Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem is a declaration of war against the Arab and Muslim nation, and the US administration must reconsider its move."
Palestinian health officials said at least 20 Palestinians, most of them in Gaza, have been killed in protests against Trump's decision since the Dec. 6 announcement.
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