Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump chat as White House senior advisor Jared Kushner is seen in between them. Picture: KOBI GIDEON/VIA REUTERS
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump chat as White House senior advisor Jared Kushner is seen in between them. Picture: KOBI GIDEON/VIA REUTERS

Jerusalem — A US move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would mean the end of President Donald Trump’s peace efforts around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a senior Palestinian official warned on Tuesday.

"This totally destroys any chance that he will play a role as an honest broker," Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, told journalists. "It takes away ... the deal of the century," he added, referring to Trump’s pledge to reach an elusive peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians.

On Monday, Trump delayed a decision on whether to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and move the US embassy there. The White House said Trump would miss a deadline to decide on shifting the embassy from Tel Aviv, after a frantic 48 hours of public warnings from allies and private phone calls between world leaders.

There have been suggestions he will stop short of moving the embassy for now but recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — a move that would overturn years of precedent and run contrary to international consensus.

"We have not been asking for anything outside the two-state solution," Shaath said. "Mr Trump and his administration are violating that and, therefore, they don’t play the game and we don’t play the game with them."

Israel occupied east Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that the status of Jerusalem was a "red line" for Muslims and could even prompt Turkey to cut ties with Israel. He said Turkey, which currently holds the chairmanship of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC), would immediately call a summit meeting of the pan-Islamic group if Trump went ahead with the move.

"Mr Trump! Jerusalem is a red line for Muslims," Erdogan said in a raucous televised speech to his ruling party that was greeted with chants and applause. Erdogan said that if such a move was made to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he would call a summit of the OIC in Istanbul within five to 10 days "and we would set the entire Islamic world in motion".

As for Turkey, Erdogan said Ankara would "follow this struggle to the very last moment with determination and we could even go right up to cutting our diplomatic relations with Israel." Last year, Turkey and Israel ended a rift triggered by Israel’s deadly storming of a Gaza-bound ship in 2010 that left 10 Turkish activists dead and led to a downgrading of diplomatic ties.

The two sides have since stepped up co-operation, in particular in energy, but Erdogan, who regards himself a champion of the Palestinian cause, is still often bitterly critical of Israeli policy.

Israel claims the entire city as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern sector as the capital of their future state. The city’s status is among the most difficult issues in the conflict. US traditional policy has been that its status must be negotiated between the two parties.

AFP

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