Update: With local news reporting that Trump and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, one of his most trusted allies in the region, it’s becoming clear that Trump is calling leaders in the region to prepare them for the US’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem – a decision that will likely outrage much of the region. According to Reuters, Trump told both Palestinian and Jordanian leaders, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of his intentions.
One by one, world leaders – most recently Jordna’s King Abdullah – have warned that such a move would have “dangerous repercussions” for security and stability in the region. Saudi King Salman said the decision would hurt the Israeli-Palestine peace process.
Meanwhile, the State Department is warning consulates across the world to prepare to boost security if Trump decides to move the embassy. Trump promised to move the embassy during his campaign but decided to delay back in June, according to the Daily Caller.
State has urged consulates across the world to boost security if President Donald Trump announces a relocation of the embassy in Israel.
“The impending Jerusalem announcement has me very worried about the possibility of violent responses that could affect embassies,” a State Department official told Politico. “I hope I’m wrong.”
The department is warning of violence against both diplomats and US citizens, and is warning them to stay away from the West Bank: “US gov’t employees & family restricted from personal travel in Jerusalem’s Old City & in the West Bank. US citizens should avoid crowds and areas with increased police and/or military presence”
Israeli security agencies have met over the past few days to prepare for riots and other attacks, according to the Ynet news agency. Authorities believe Trump’s announcement could spark attacks from established terror groups, as well as so-called “lone wolf” terrorists.
* * *
After warning that he could officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by the end of the week – an announcement that drew vociferous objections from Turkey and Saudi Arabia, who both warned that such a declaration would irreparably damage US ties with the Muslim world – Palestinian sources are reporting that President Donald Trump told Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas that the US intends to eventually move its embassy to Jerusalem – a contested city that is claimed as a capital by both Israel and the Palestinian territories.
As we noted earlier, the decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would infuriate Palestinians.
Majdi Khaldi, a diplomatic adviser of President Mahmoud Abbas, said the Palestinian leadership would “stop contacts” with the US if Trump recognized Jerusalem – making Jared Kushner’s job of solving the Israel-Palestine conflict even more difficult than it already is. Khaldi said the US would lose credibility as a mediator in the Middle East if the US President went ahead with the move. Kushner had earlier said Trump hadn’t made a final decision.
On the call with Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other regional leaders, Abbas warned Trump that moving the embassy could have “dangerous consequences.”
Readouts of the calls are expected later Tuesday.
Trump was expected to announce as soon as Wednesday that the US would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move its embassy there (though some expected that he would delay the embassy move, but stress that he would eventually like to do so, according to local Israeli media.)
Israel considers Jerusalem its true capital, and the western part of the city is host to many of the Israeli state’s administrative functions.
If Trump follows through with what he told Abbas, his actions this week would be considerably more dramatic than anticipated.