Friday, March 23, 2018 | ePaper
Int'l warnings as Trump delays Jerusalem decision
Any move by Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital would be warmly welcomed by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
International leaders warned US President Donald Trump on Tuesday that he risked outraging Muslims and jeopardising Middle East peace efforts if he recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and moved the US embassy there.
Trump delayed a controversial decision on the ancient holy city on Monday, following frantic public warnings from allies and private phone calls between world leaders.
Jerusalem's status is a key issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with both Israelis and Palestinians claiming the city as their capital.
Warnings multiplied on Tuesday, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warning Trump in a speech that the status of Jerusalem is a "red line" for Muslims and could even prompt Turkey to cut ties with Israel.
Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit said member states had decided to meet in Cairo "given the danger of this matter, if it were to happen, and the possible negative consequences not only for the situation in Palestine but also for the Arab and Islamic region".
US officials said Trump was expected to stop short of moving the embassy to Jerusalem outright-a central campaign pledge which his administration has postponed once already.
But domestic politics may still push him to break with decades of US policy recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital instead in a gesture towards conservative voters and donors.
"The president has been clear on this issue from the get-go: It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when," said White House spokesman Hogan Gidley.
He said a declaration on the move would be made "in the coming days."
Trump has said he wants to relaunch frozen peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in search of the "ultimate deal"-but recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital would destroy that effort, a senior Palestinian official warned.
"That totally destroys any chance that he will play a role as an honest broker," Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, told reporters Tuesday.
Saeb Erakat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, earlier warned that a change in the US stance on Jerusalem would spell disaster.
Palestinian leaders have been lobbying regional leaders to oppose any shift in US policy, and the armed Islamist movement Hamas has threatened to launch a new "intifada" uprising.