European allies warn against Jerusalem embassy move

Curt Mills

The incoming Trump administration is pushing forward with plans to the move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a report from CNN says Tuesday.

Officials with the incoming Trump administration have let it be known the president-elect is planning on relocating the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, CNN reports. These conversations have brought about "stark warnings of the potential impact" of the move and "the Palestinians and Arab nations are escalating calls not to do it," CNN noted.

The move, which has been debated for years but never implemented, could be made as early as May 24, "Jerusalem Day" in Israel, according to the report. The contested city is claimed by the Israeli government as its capital, but most countries send their missions to Tel Aviv. Some countries used to maintain an embassy in Jerusalem, but no countries have since El Salvador left the city in 2006. The United Nations also does not recognize the city as Israel's capital.

The city is critically important in the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths.

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But President-elect Donald Trump endorsed the idea in the campaign, and his nominee for ambassador, David Friedman, is seen as a hardliner.

As a candidate, Trump acknowledged to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "that Jerusalem has been the eternal capital of the Jewish people for over 3,000 years," his campaign said in a statement, during a meeting that was concurrent with the United Nation General Assembly session.

"The U.S., under a Trump administration, will finally accept the long-standing congressional mandate to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the state of Israel," his campaign pledged.

Trump also in the campaign pledged to be "neutral" in adjudicating in future negotiations between the two sides, before backing away from that stance.

Some Europeans officials are concerned about an embassy move.

"It's very dangerous," one European diplomat told CNN. "Chances for the peace process are going very quickly -- it's now or never. Violence is always a concern and, at this point, it's probably easy for Palestinians to demonstrate their frustration."

Outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry in December argued that Jerusalem should potentially be the "internationally recognized capital of the two states" of Israel and Palestine and noted that the city "is the most sensitive issue for both sides." But Israel's government claims the city as its "undivided" capital, as the September Trump campaign statement alluded to.

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, wrote the president-elect on the issue, the Palestinian news agency Wafa reported on Monday.

Abbas noted that such a move would have a "disastrous impact on the peace process, on the two-state solution and on the stability and security of the entire region."

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