Diplomacy & defense
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to help stop the United States moving its embassy to Jerusalem, a top Palestinian official said Friday.
Saeb Erekat said he had passed on the message from Abbas to Putin during a visit to Moscow during which he met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
"The letter asks President Putin to do what he can about the information we have that President-elect Donald Trump will move the embassy to Jerusalem, which for us is a red line and dangerous," Erekat said.
According to Mohammad Shtayyeh, a senior Palestinian official and Fatah central committee member, the Palestinian leadership has been informed by diplomatic contacts that Trump could call for the move in his inauguration speech on January 20.
Meanwhile, Jerusalem's Grand Mufti on Friday branded plans by Trump to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem an "assault" on Muslims across the globe.
"The pledge to move the embassy is not just an assault against Palestinians but against Arabs and Muslims, who will not remain silent," Muhammad Hussein said in a sermon at Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem's Old City.
On Tuesday, Palestinian leaders called for Friday prayers at mosques across the Middle East this week to protest Trump's campaign pledge.
There have been warnings that the move would constitute recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and could inflame tensions in the Middle East and possibly sink what remains of peace efforts.
"The transfer of the embassy violates international charters and norms which recognize Jerusalem as an occupied city," Hussein said in his sermon, avoiding mentioning Trump by name.
The Mufti's statements echo those of the al-Aqsa Mosque's Imam, Akra Sabri, who last month told i24NEWS that moving the United States embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be an American act of war against not only the Palestinians, but against all Muslims.
The Palestinians regard east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while Israel proclaims the entire city as its capital.
The city's status is one of the thorniest issues of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel gained the territory of the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognized by the international community.
Mohammad Shtayyeh, a senior Palestinian official and Fatah central committee member, said on Tuesday that the Palestinian leadership had been informed by diplomatic contacts that Trump could call for the move in his inauguration speech on January 20.
The Palestinians have added the issue to the agenda of a meeting of foreign ministers from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on January 19 in Malaysia, he added.
(Staff with AFP)