Abbas considers 'reversing recognition' of Israel over US-embassy move

Abbas considers 'reversing recognition' of Israel over US-embassy move
Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas warned that moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem would deal a huge blow to hopes for Middle East peace.
2 min read
14 January, 2017
Palestine may consider "reversing recognition" of Israel if Donald Trump moves the US embassy to Jerusalem, President Mahmud Abbas said in an interview released by the French daily Le Figaro on Friday.

"I wrote to President-elect Trump to ask him not to do it. Not only would this move deprive the United States of all legitimacy in playing a role in conflict resolution, it would also destroy the two-state solution," Abbas was quoted as saying.

Trump - who takes office next Friday - has said he plans to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocate the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.

The move is bitterly opposed by Palestinians, who see it as a destructive and unilateral action as the status of the city is still contested.

If the embassy transfer takes place, "there would be several options for us, and we would discuss them with Arab countries," Abbas added in the interview.

"Reversing our recognition of the State of Israel is one of them. But we hope that it doesn't reach that point, and that, on the contrary, we will be able to work with the next American administration," he added.

On Saturday, the Palestinian leader held a private meeting with Pope Francis as he opened a Palestinian embassy at the Vatican. Speaking to reporters, Abbas said that anything which legitimised the "illegal Israeli annexation" of Jerusalem would "bury the hopes for a two-state solution, and fuel extremism in our region".

The US and most UN member states do not recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and the city's status is one of the thorniest issues of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel supports Trump's plan and has encouraged previous US presidents to take similar steps but to no avail.

Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) recognised each other under the 1993 Oslo agreements, but the process which was supposed to deliver a lasting peace is moribund.

More than 70 countries are expected to meet in Paris on Sunday at a conference aimed to reaffirm support for the "two-state solution" in which Palestinian and Israeli states would live side-by-side in peace and security.

The Paris meeting "may be the last chance for implementing" the two-state solution, Abbas warned.