(REPORT) — Palestinian leaders Tuesday called for prayers at mosques across the Middle East this week to protest plans by President-elect Donald Trump to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and also threatened to withdraw the Palestinian recognition of Israel if the move is realized.
Mohammad Shtayyeh, a senior Palestinian official and Fatah central committee member who spoke on behalf of the Palestinian leadership, said moving the U.S. embassy would mean an “end to the two-state solution.”
“I think and we all think that moving the embassy to Jerusalem is a dangerous step that will have dangerous consequences for the political track for our people and for our future aspirations and for the Muslim, Arab, Christian countries and people all over the world,” Shtayyeh told journalists in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
As a protest against such a move, Shtayyeh called for prayers at mosques throughout the Middle East Friday as well as for churches to ring bells in protest Sunday. “We are not inciting violence. Ringing a church bell … is not a violent act. Calling for a prayer is not a violent act.”
He said the Palestinian leadership had been informed by diplomatic contacts that Trump could call for the move in his inauguration speech on Jan. 20. The senior official warned that if the move goes through, the Palestinian Liberation Organization would consider whether to withdraw recognition of Israel.
The Palestinian call to action and warning to Trump came a week after the new U.S. Congress introduced a bill to move the country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, calling on Washington to recognize Jerusalem as “the undivided capital of the State of Israel.”
The “Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act,” submitted last Tuesday by three senators, including former Republican presidential candidates and senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, would withhold funds from the U.S. state department until the embassy is moved.
There have been warnings that moving the U.S. embassy to the contested city and recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital could inflame tensions in the Middle East and possibly sink what remains of peace efforts.
Recognizing the highly-contested city as the Israeli capital would be a controversial move given Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem since 1967 and its later annexation of East Jerusalem in a move never recognized by the international community.
The Palestinians regard Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while Israel proclaims the entire city as its capital.
Jerusalem is home to sites sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians and the move would be a break from decades of U.S. policy. Successive administrations have refused calls to move the embassy, arguing that its status should be resolved as part of peace negotiations.
Trump has already made clear that he would side with the far-right factions of the Israeli political sphere. He slammed the Obama administration for failing to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution passed on Dec. 23 calling for a cessation to Israeli settlement building in Palestinian territory.
Trump has also nominated David Friedman, a supporter of Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank, as his ambassador to Tel Aviv.
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