As Trump Weighs Jerusalem Embassy Decision, Palestinian Leaders Warn of Violence

By Patrick Goodenough | December 4, 2017 | 4:16 AM EST

Much of the international community does not recognize Israel's right to its capital, Jerusalem. (Photo:

( – Warning that violence is likely to be unleashed, Palestinian leaders at the weekend stepped up efforts to pressure President Trump not to move ahead with relocating the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

As the deadline arrives for Trump to announce whether he will comply with 22-year-old U.S. law or once again invoke a waiver to put off doing so, the Palestinian Authority has recruited handpicked leaders, and also wants the Arab League and the bloc of Islamic nations to get involved.

Trump’s Mideast adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner said Sunday the president has not yet made a final decision on the matter, telling an audience at the Brookings Institution that “he is still looking at a lot of different facts.”


P.A. chairman Mahmoud Abbas spoke to the leaders of key Arab countries (Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Kuwait and Tunisia) and two in Europe (French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan) appealing to them to apply pressure.

Abbas’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said Abbas had warned that moving the embassy to Jerusalem – Israel’s capital but claimed by the Palestinians as capital of an envisaged future state – would “lead to the destruction of the peace process and would bring the region into an uncontrollable situation.”

On Sunday, Abbas directed the P.A. foreign minister, Riyad al-Malki, to arrange urgent meetings with the 22-member Arab League (the Assad regime is currently suspended) and the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The official P.A. news agency Wafa quoted Malki as saying the U.S. would be held responsible for the consequences of such an “irresponsible” move.

“We hope the decisions made will be compatible with the size and importance of Jerusalem, being the capital of the Palestinian state and the holiest of holies [sic],” he said.

Two senior Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leaders also weighed in, with Secretary-General Saeb Erekat describing Jerusalem as “the heart of the Arab world.”

He warned that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would “promote international anarchy and disrespect for global institutions and law.”

The move would also disqualify the U.S. from playing “any role in any initiative towards achieving a just and lasting peace,” Erekat said.

He confirmed Abbas has been urging world leaders to “take action.”

PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi said moving the embassy would “unleash forces that cannot be contained, inflaming sentiments and generating tensions and instability throughout the region and beyond.”

She scolded Congress for “meddling in foreign affairs” by passing “laws that are in the service of Israel and detrimental to peace and American standing abroad.”

The U.S. Congress in 1995 passed a law stating that “Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.”

The law drew significant support, passing by a 374-37 vote in the House and a 93-5 vote in the Senate. President Clinton allowed it to become law without signature.

The 1999 due date came and went, and then two weeks later Clinton for the first time issued a waiver delaying compliance by six months.

Clinton issued three more waivers, and Presidents George W. Bush and Obama issued 16 each.

When Trump last June issued his first one, the White House said that “no one should consider this step to be in any way a retreat from the president’s strong support for Israel and for the United States-Israel alliance.”

Trump, Clinton and Bush all pledged while campaigning for the presidency to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

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Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow