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Jordan urges US not to recognise Jerusalem as Israel capital Jerusalem: Opposition to mooted Trump Israel announcement grows
(about 3 hours later)
Jordan's foreign minister has warned the US of "dangerous consequences" if it recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Opposition is growing in the Arab world to an expected announcement by Donald Trump that the US will recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Ayman Safadi said he had told US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson such a declaration would trigger great anger in the Arab and Muslim world. Reports say the president will make the statement this week but will further delay acting on a campaign pledge to move the US embassy to the city.
Speculation is mounting that President Donald Trump will announce the move soon, fulfilling an election pledge. The head of the Arab League, Jordan and the Palestinian president have warned of the consequences of a declaration.
Jared Kushner, Mr Trump's son-in-law, said no decision had yet been made. The city's fate is one of the thorniest issues between Israel and the Arabs.
In a tweet, Mr Safadi said: "Spoke with #US Secretary of State Tillerson on dangerous consequences of recognising Jerusalem as capital of Israel. Such a decision would trigger anger across #Arab #Muslim worlds, fuel tension & jeopardise peace efforts." A deadline for Donald Trump to sign a waiver delaying the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem expires on Monday.
There was no public response from the US State Department. Every president, including Mr Trump, has signed the waiver every six months since US Congress passed an act in 1995 calling for the embassy to be moved.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is trying to rally international support to persuade Mr Trump not to make the announcement. Mr Trump repeatedly pledged during his election campaign to move the embassy, and while he has said it was still his intention, he has not yet done so.
His office said he made phone calls on Sunday to world leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. There are signs however he will make a statement on Wednesday announcing Washington's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel while holding off moving the embassy.
He wanted to "explain the dangers of any decision to move the [US] embassy to Jerusalem or recognise (Jerusalem) as Israel's capital", Mr Abbas's adviser Majdi al-Khalidi told the AFP news agency. What's so contentious about the move?
Palestinian leaders have previously warned the move would threaten a two-state solution. The status of Jerusalem goes to the heart of Israel's conflict with the Palestinians, who are backed by the rest of the Arab and wider Islamic world.
Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since the 1967 Middle East war. It annexed the area in 1980 and sees it as its exclusive domain. The city is home to key religious sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, especially in East Jerusalem.
Israel is determined that Jerusalem be its eternal, indivisible capital. But Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future state. Israel occupied the area in the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, and according to 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords its final status is meant to discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.
Successive US administrations since 1948 have maintained that the status of Jerusalem is to be decided by negotiations and that they would not engage in actions that might be perceived as prejudging the outcome of those negotiations. Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognised internationally, and all countries, including Israel's closest ally the US, maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv, Israel's commercial capital.
During last year's election campaign, Mr Trump expressed strong support for Israel and promised to order the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on his first day in office. Since 1967, Israel has built a dozen settlements, home to about 200,000 Jews, in East Jerusalem. These are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.
He has since delayed any such decision but speculation has mounted that he may make the declaration in a speech on Wednesday. If the US recognises Jerusalem as Israel's capital, it will put it out-of-step with the rest of the international community and reinforce Israel's position that settlements in the east are valid Israeli communities.
Addressing a think-tank in Washington on Sunday, Mr Kushner, a key adviser to Mr Trump, refused to be drawn and said it was up to the president to announce his intention at the appropriate time. It would also raise a question over how the US will treat resolutions dealing with East Jerusalem at the UN. The US has a power of veto and could use this to block future motions critical of Israeli policy in the east.
"The president is going to make his decision and he's still looking at a lot of different facts. When he makes his decision he'll be the one to want to tell you, not me," he said. What has been the reaction in the Arab world?
There is growing anger towards Washington among its allies in the Middle East.
Jordan, the custodian of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, has warned of "grave consequences" if Donald Trump goes ahead, and has called for an emergency meeting of key regional and Islamic blocs the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to discuss the issue.
Arab League chief Abul Gheit warned such a move would "nourish fanaticism and violence".
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has contacted world leaders urging them to intervene, saying "such a US decision would destroy the peace process and drag the region into further instability".
Will Donald Trump definitely make the announcement?
It remains uncertain though whether the president will recognise Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.
The White House has neither confirmed nor denied his intention, and in a rare public speech on Sunday his son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner refused to be drawn on the issue.
"The president is going to make his decision and he's still looking at a lot of different facts," he told the Saban Forum in Washington.
"When he makes his decision he'll be the one to want to tell you, not me," he said.