RAMALLAH: The Palestinian president on Sunday warned that American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would jeopardise the White House’s nascent Mideast peace efforts.

President Mahmoud Abbas’ comments came amid a diplomatic push by the Palestinian leader to rally international support against the possible American move later this week.

“Any American step related to the recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, or moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, represents a threat to the future of the peace process and is unacceptable for the Palestinians, Arabs and internationally,” Abbas told a group of visiting Arab lawmakers from Israel, according to the official Wafa news agency.

American officials say that President Donald Trump may recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital this week as a way to offset his likely decision to delay his campaign promise of moving the US Embassy there.

Israel regards Jerusalem as its capital, with most government functions, including the prime minister’s office, Supreme Court and parliament, located in the holy city.

But the international community says the city’s status should be determined through peace talks. The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967, as their capital. Abbas’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdeneh, said late on Saturday that the president has been in touch with Arab and world leaders to rally opposition against any American move on Jerusalem.

He said Abbas had been in contact with leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and France.

“We believe that such an American step, if it takes place, will enter the region in a new course, and a dangerous phase whose results cannot be controlled,” he said.

The White House, led by Trump’s adviser and son in law, Jared Kushner, has held months of meetings with leaders across the region ahead of an expected peace initiative. While the proposal is expected to be regional in scope, little is known about the details, including whether Trump will continue the policies of recent predecessors in supporting the notion of an independent Palestinian state.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2017

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