Palestinians' Abbas: US Embassy Move Would Hurt Peace

By VOA News January 14, 2017

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned Saturday that moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, one of President-elect Donald Trump's campaign promises, would "not help the peace process."

The controversial promise would be a break with previous U.S. policy, as well as with most the international community, over the status of Jerusalem - the city that both Israel and Palestine claim as their capital.

"We cannot say anything yet because it has not happened, but if this does happen it will not help the peace process," Abbas told reporters in Arabic in Rome, following a visit with Pope Francis.

Blow to two-state solution

In an interview Saturday with French newspaper Le Figaro, Abbas said that he had written Trump to warn him of the consequences of this action.

"Not only would it strip the United States of all its legitimacy to play a role in resolving the conflict, but it would reduce to nothing a two-state solution," Abbas was quoted as saying.

Abbas spoke with the pope ahead of the official opening of the Palestinian embassy in the Vatican. This is the third meeting between the two leaders, and the inauguration of the diplomatic mission follows a treaty the two signed in July of 2015.

The accord, which had been negotiated for years, outlines the parameters of the Roman Catholic Church's activities in the West Bank.

US as hold-out

The document also supports the two-state solution to the Palestinians' decades-old conflict with Israel, based on 1967 borders.

The Vatican formally recognized a Palestinian state in 2013, joining 135 countries that also have done so. The United States is not among them.

Israel is opposed to such recognition, saying the only way to end the conflict is through negotiations, which have not progressed in years.

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