US embassy move would hurt peace, Abbas tells Pope

Pope Francis (R) walks along with Palestinian authority President Mahmud Abbas (L) during a private audience on May 16, 2015 in Vatican
ALBERTO PIZZOLI (AFP/File)
Palestinian leader meets with Pope ahead of Paris peace conference on Sunday

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday that if US president-elect Donald Trump carries out announced plans to transfer Washington's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem it will hurt the peace process.

"We are waiting to see if it happens. If it does it will not help peace and we hope it does not happen," Abbas told reporters minutes after discussing the Middle East situation with Pope Francis.

Abbas, who spoke through an interpreter, was in Rome to open the new embassy of the State of Palestine to the Vatican.

Abbas met with Pope Francis ahead of the Paris peace conference on Sunday, which he said could be the last chance to implement a two-state solution.

"We, as Palestinians, are saying 'no more,'" said Abbas in an interview with the French daily Le Figaro on Friday.

"After 70 years of dispersion and 50 years of occupation, 2017 should be the year of justice, peace and liberty for our people."

On Sunday, more than 70 countries will meet in a Paris middle east peace conference expected to reaffirm support for the "two-state solution" in which Palestinian and Israeli states would live side-by-side in peace and security.

However, neither Israeli nor Palestinian delegations will participate in the summit.

Addressing plans by the incoming administration of president-elect Donald Trump to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Abbas said the Palestinians may consider "reversing recognition" of Israel.

Trump -- who is set to take office next week -- has said he plans to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocate the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Palestinians view the move as being severely destructive and a unilateral action, as the status of the city is still contested.

Abbas had written to Trump, warning that the embassy move would have a "disastrous impact on the peace process, on the two-state solution and on the stability and security of the entire region," reported the Palestinian news agency Wafa on Monday.

"I wrote to president(-elect) Trump to ask him not to do it." Abbas was also quoted as saying in Friday's interview. "Not only would this move deprive the United States of all legitimacy in playing a role in conflict resolution, it would also destroy the two-state solution,"

Comments

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"Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas warned Saturday that moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem would deal a huge blow to hopes for Middle East peace." Exactly to what 'hopes' does he refer? They say elections have consequences. Well, so do wars. Israel, stand strong. MOST of America is with you. One question, and no offense intended, but can anyone answer one question? Why do most American Jews support liberal democrats, when most liberals in America support the Palestinians over the Israelis? American CONSERVATIVES have always been very strong supporters of Israel, yet they get almost no support from the American Jewish community. Puzzling.

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