Palestinian party: Trump's plan to move Israel embassy to Jerusalem is a 'declaration of war'


American and Israeli officials said that President Donald Trump's controversial campaign promises to move the US embassy to Jerusalem was still on track, but would be implemented cautiously and over time.

"From the conversations I've had with US government officials, I know they are serious in their intentions...but I definitely don't think they will move the embassy in a day," Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat told Army Radio on Monday. White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Sunday confirmed that plans were only in the preliminary stages, though had also announced last week that announcements regarding the embassy were forthcoming, given that "the president has made clear that Israel has not gotten the respect it deserves."

But for Palestinians, the threat is already here, drawing ire and threats of escalating conflict across the region.

The embassy move will "open the gates of hell in the region and the world," wrote the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the military arm of the ruling Palestinian Fatah Party in control of the West Bank, in a Facebook statement, adding that the move would constitute a "declaration of war against the legitimate rights of our Palestinian people." "America will lose the status of mediator and influential role in the political process" and will turn into "one party in the conflict," said Fatah official Nasser al-Qudwa.

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A Jewish man covered in a prayer shawl, prays in the Jewish settler outpost of Amona in the West Bank December 18, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Israeli teenagers rest in a tent as they prepare for an expected eviction of the Jewish settlement outpost of Amona in the West Bank, December 9, 2016 REUTERS/Amir Cohen
A construction site is seen in the Israeli settlement of Givat Zeev, in the occupied West Bank December 22, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Houses are seen in the Jewish settlement of Har Gilo, in the occupied West Bank, December 29, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Israeli soldiers are seen next to a bus stop covered with posters from the Israeli branch of the U.S. Republican party campaign in favour of Donald Trump, near the West Bank Jewish Settlement of Ariel October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A Palestinian labourer works at a construction site in the Israeli settlement of Efrat, in the occupied West Bank, December 29, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Houses in the Israeli settlement of Givat Zeev are seen from the Israeli settlement of Givon Ha'hadasha (bottom), in the occupied West Bank, December 29, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
A general view shows a construction site in the Israeli settlement of Efrat, in the occupied West Bank, December 29, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Israeli youths build a wooden structure in the Jewish settler outpost of Amona, in the West Bank November 29, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
Palestinian labourers work at a construction site in the Israeli settlement of Efrat, in the occupied West Bank, December 29, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Students do pull-ups as they train at the Bnei David academy, the first religious military prep school and Jewish seminary, in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Eli, south of Nablus, January 31, 2016. Picture taken on January 31, 2016. To match Special Report ISRAEL-MILITARY/RELIGION REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
A Palestinian labourer walks at a construction site in the Israeli settlement of Efrat, in the occupied West Bank, December 29, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
A man pushes a shopping cart outside Shufersal, Israel's largest supermarket chain, in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Mishor Adumim near Jerusalem May 5, 2013. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/Files Photo
A Palestinian labourer works at a construction site in the Israeli settlement of Efrat, in the occupied West Bank, December 29, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Houses are seen in the Israeli settlement of Givat Zeev (bottom) with the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the backgraund, in the occupied West Bank, December 29, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
A worker walks on scaffoldings in a construction site at the Israeli settlement of Har Homa, in the occupied West Bank December 28, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
A general view shows a Star of David near buildings in the Israeli settlement of Maale Edumim, in the occupied West Bank December 28, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Israelis are seen near a construction site in the Israeli settlement of Ramat Shlomo, in the occupied West Bank December 28, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
A Palestinian labourer prays during his lunch break at Aluminum Construction, a factory located in the Industrial Park of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem, February 3, 2016. Picture taken February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
A construction worker labours on a building in the Israeli settlement of Maale Edumim, in the occupied West Bank December 28, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Bulidings can be seen under construction in the Israeli settlement of Maale Edumim, in the occupied West Bank December 28, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Bulidings under construction are seen in the Israeli settlement of Maale Edumim, in the occupied West Bank, December 28, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
A Palestinian man rides a donkey near the Israeli settlement of Maale Edumim, in the occupied West Bank, December 28, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Israeli boys from the Ziv family play outside their home in the Jewish settler outpost of Amona in the West Bank, November 22, 2016. Picture taken November 22, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
Houses are seen in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim as the Palestinian village of Al-Eizariya is seen in the background May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
An Israeli boy looks through the sight of a weapon during a display of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) equipment and abilities at the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, April 23, 2015, during celebrations for Israel's Independence Day, marking the 67th anniversary of the creation of the state. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Elad Ziv prepares food in his home in the Jewish settler outpost of Amona in the West Bank, November 22, 2016. Picture taken November 22, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
Israeli youths push a water tank as they construct a temporary barrier in the Jewish settler outpost of Amona in the West Bank December 15, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
Players from Israeli soccer clubs affiliated with Israel Football Association, Ariel Municipal Soccer Club and Maccabi HaSharon Netanya, play against each other at Ariel Municipal Soccer Club's training grounds in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ariel September 23, 2016. Picture taken September 23, 2016. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Israeli youths use a tractor as they build wooden structures in the Jewish settler outpost of Amona, in the West Bank November 29, 2016. The sticker on the tractor in Hebrew reads:, "For the second time, Amona will not fall" REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
Israeli teenagers walk on graffiti reading in Hebrew "Soldier, policeman, refuse orders" as they prepare for an expected eviction of the Jewish settlement outpost of Amona in the West Bank, December 9, 2016. REUTERS/Amir Cohen TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Palestinian labourers work at Aluminum Construction, a factory located in the Industrial Park of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem, February 3, 2016. Picture taken February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
Israeli men stand next to a structure with Hebrew graffiti reading "over Judea and Samaria, there will be war" in the early morning in the Jewish settler outpost of Amona in the West Bank December 15, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
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Mushir al-Masri, an official from the rival Hamas party, told the pro-Hamas Shehab Media that moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem would spur the armed group to "operate at all levels to confront the move," and would make an enemy of the American administration as "the other face of Occupation."

In Israel, right-wing politicians have hailed Trump's victory and remained hopeful that his administration will give Israelis a freer hand in expanding settlements in the disputed West Bank and in Arab East Jerusalem. On Sunday, only two days after Trump's presidential inauguration, Isreal announced plans to build almost 600 new settlement homes in occupied East Jerusalem.

The American embassy, along with most foreign diplomatic posts, is currently located in Tel Aviv. If Trump were to move the embassy to Jerusalem, it would represent a major change in US policy that has for decades left the status of the city, claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians as their holy capital, up to peace negotiations.

SEE ALSO: Trump invites Netanyahu to Washington for visit: White House

While US politicians have upheld the view of Jerusalem as Israel's undivided capital since the congressional passing of the Jerusalem Embassy Act, every American president since then has maintained the embassy in Tel Aviv in order to preserve the status quo as well as alignment with the United Nations, which does not accept the Israeli annexation of Arab East Jerusalem since capturing the city in the 1967 Six Day War.

The White House confirmed on Sunday that President Donald Trump invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington in early February in a phone call, though the official White House record omits any talk of the US embassy move.

But as Trump's Israel policy remains unclear, world leaders are already making contingency plans. Netanyahu and senior ministers were briefed by Israeli security services on possible violence scenarios in the event of an embassy move, according to a report by the Israeli daily Haaretz. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met on Sunday with Jordan's King Abdullah II in Amman Jordan in order to formulate a list of steps they would take if such a decision is implemented. Following the meeting, Abbas said that the "best contribution the United states could make" would be to "not discuss moving the embassy to Jerusalem and, second, to lead negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis with the aim of achieving a political settlement."

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