Jabril Rjoub, senior Palestinian leader and Fatah official, in his office in Ramallah .
(photo credit: ADAM RASGON)
The international community should not expect the Palestinians to wave a white flag of surrender if President-elect Donald Trump moves the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and ignores settlement construction, says Jibril Rajoub, a senior Palestinian leader and Fatah official.
“If Mr. Trump wants to translate his campaign propaganda into actions, no one should expect the Palestinians to surrender. We have to mobilize the whole world to react and exert pressure, because [changes to the status quo] will cause harm to regional stability and security and global peace,” Rajoub, who recently was reelected to the Fatah Central Committee with the second-largest number of votes, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview in his Ramallah office on Thursday.
“We have to go to the Arab League, the Islamic countries, the non-aligned countries, EU countries and the Security Council. We have to go all over the world to ask for justice and our right in self-determination,” he said.
Trump advisers have said the president-elect intends to move the embassy and ignore settlement building. Palestinian leaders in Ramallah are now warning of the consequences of such changes to US policy pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In the past week, the Palestinian leadership launched a campaign to appeal to the world to stop changes to the status quo.
On Monday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas sent letters to a host of world leaders and heads of international bodies, including the US president-elect, Russian President Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister Theresa May, asking them to block the relocation of the embassy.
Rajoub, who said he is unaware of any contact between the Trump transition team and the Palestinian leadership, added that he hopes the businessman turned president-elect will recalibrate and realize the gravity of making changes to the status quo.
“I hope that Mr. Trump recharges his mental batteries, reconsiders his campaign propaganda, recognizes realities on the ground and understands the complication of this long and arduous conflict,” Rajoub said, affirming that the Palestinians have no intention to leave their homeland.
While Trump has allowed his advisers to make a number of statements on the incoming US administration’s policies regarding Israel and the Palestinian territories, the president-elect himself has not made any declarations since his election, leaving hope for Palestinians that Trump will implement different policies than those on which he campaigned.
Rajoub, who previously served in the PA’s security sector, said if Trump does not reconsider his campaign promises regarding the US Embassy, he might ignite a fire on the Palestinian street that cannot be extinguished.
“I hope Mr. Trump will not underestimate the response about the issue of Jerusalem. This is like playing with fire and nuclear weapons – no one should touch that or has the right to touch that. Just believe me, only criminals would do such crazy things. Who will control the street?” Rajoub said, emphasizing that the Palestinian leadership will not initiate any violence.
Jerusalem historically has witnessed periods of violence, many of which stem from conflicts over holy sites and political events.
Rajoub added that people around the world will also react to changes in the status quo.
“This conflict is not only between Israelis and Palestinians. This conflict is a core [issue] for regional and global security and peace. It can be a source of peace or a source of confrontation. Changing the status quo would be a declaration of war against the whole world.”
Nonetheless, Rajoub said there is one scenario in which he would welcome Trump’s efforts to relocate the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
“If he wants to settle the conflict, he can come and say west Jerusalem is the capital of a political entity called Israel and east Jerusalem is the capital of a political entity called Palestine and that the end game is two states on the ’67 borders. I am the man who wants to do that,” Rajoub stated, saying that Trump would be recognized “as a hero throughout the entire world.”
The Palestinian leadership has long held that Jerusalem should ultimately be divided between east and west Jerusalem. In 2011, leaked documents revealed the Palestinian negotiating team maintained this policy and even made compromises on parts of the 1967 borders.
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