Executive Secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat said that any American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will bring about the end of the Palestinian peace process.
“We have clearly told the Americans that moving the US embassy to Jerusalem or recognizing it as the capital of Israel would mean the end of the peace process in the region, and not just the US withdrawal as a sponsor of this process,” Erekat told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Erekat, who has been in the US for months now, mad his statement after holding Palestinian-US talks that included Palestinian intelligence chief Majid Faraj, acting as an envoy of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The talks also addressed the issue of the PLO office in Washington and the removal of the organization from the US terror list.
Palestinian and Arab officials recently criticized reports that said US President Donald Trump was planning to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, according to what an informed Palestinian source told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The officials added that Jerusalem is a red line, not only for Palestinians, but for Arabs, Muslims and Christians everywhere.
Arab countries have indicated that this may jeopardize the interests of the United States in the region and their relations as well, according to the sources.
The Arab and Palestinian warnings came after an unnamed senior US official in Washington said that Trump is expected to deliver a speech on Wednesday recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, confirming that the decision is not final yet and might change.
The White House did not comment on this, but one of the aides said that the forthcoming Trump decisions on Jerusalem come after intense internal consultations, in which the president personally participated in.
A 1995 law, which requires the relocation of the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem but provides the president with the prerogative to postpone the move every six months on national security grounds, is included among the decisions, according to officials in the White House.
Last year, Trump pledged to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but in June he delayed implementing it, saying he wanted to give the opportunity for a new US-led effort to reach a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.
However, Palestinians reject any US action on Jerusalem as one of the final issues in the negotiations. Palestinians also want East Jerusalem as the capital of the future state within the 1967 borders.
The Palestinian president's office and senior officials have warned of the potentially destructive effects of any move that denies their claim to occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, will speak publicly Sunday for the first time about the American administration's attempts to facilitate an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
Kushner, who has been working on this issue ever since January, will speak on at the Saban Forum in Washington, DC, an annual conference on US policy in the Middle East, organized by the Brookings Institution.