Vociferous Arab and Muslim opposition was building Tuesday to any possible U.S. recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as European leaders expressed concern about harm to fragile Mideast peace efforts.
President Donald Trump informed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a phone call Tuesday that he intends to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a holy city whose Israeli-annexed eastern sector the Palestinians seek as a future capital.
Abbas’ office said the Palestinian leader warned Trump of dangerous repercussions for Mideast peace efforts, as well as security and stability in the region and the world.
The statement did not say if Trump gave a timeline for the intended move.
U.S. officials familiar with planning for a possible announcement on Jerusalem said they expect Trump to speak to the matter around midday Wednesday, although the specifics of what he will say were still being debated. The officials were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The officials, along with an outside adviser to the administration, said they expected Trump would make a generic statement about Jerusalem’s status as the “capital of Israel.”
They said they did not expect the president to use the phrase “undivided capital,” which would imply Israeli sovereignty over east Jerusalem, which is not recognized by the United Nations.
They also said Trump planned to sign a waiver delaying for another six months a U.S. legal requirement to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But, they said Trump would likely give wide latitude to David Friedman, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, to make a determination on when such a move would be appropriate. Friedman has spoken in favor of the move.
As discussions continued on Tuesday, pressure from numerous quarters against full-on recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital appeared to have led to the possibility that Trump include comments in his speech that might mitigate the impact of the announcement.
Among the ideas under discussion were Trump giving a nod to Palestinian aspirations to have the capital of an eventual state in east Jerusalem or endorsing the concept of a two-state solution, something he has yet to do. It remained unclear whether any such comments would be included.
Jerusalem is home to the third-holiest shrine of Islam, along with the holiest site in Judaism and major Christian holy sites….