US ‘discussing’ moving Israel embassy to Jerusalem

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Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail| 23 January 2017| 24 Rabi ul Aakir 1438

Days after Trump’s inauguration, White House discusses controversial plan to relocate embassy from Tel Aviv.

The White House said, on Sunday, that it is in the early stages of talks to fulfil President Donald Trump’s pledge to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move opposed by the Palestinian leadership.

“We are at the very beginning stages of even discussing this subject,” said White House spokesman Sean Spicer.

Hundreds of Palestinians protested against the plans in cities across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, according to local media reports.

Trump reportedly spoke to hardline, right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier in the day.
Jerusalem mayor, Nir Barkat, welcomed the Trump administration’s announcement.

“This evening’s announcement has sent a clear message to the world that the US recognises Jerusalem as the indivisible capital of the State of Israel,” Barkat said in a statement.

“We will provide any and all necessary assistance to the US administration to ensure that the embassy move is done seamlessly and efficiently.”

Palestinians and their leadership strongly opposed the move.

Earlier this month, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly wrote to Trump, who was president-elect at the time, telling him not to move the US embassy.

‘Disastrous impact’
Abbas warned that such a 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”, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported at the time.

In addition to the Syrian Golan Heights and part of the Egyptian Sinai, Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip during the 1967 war. The Sinai region was later returned to Egypt.

More than 530,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, according to the Israeli rights group B’Tselem. They are considered illegal under international law.

Between 2009 and 2014, settlements were expanded by at least 23 percent.

Earlier on Sunday, Israeli authorities approved building permits for 566 settler homes in the occupied eastern part of the city, according to local officials.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Abbas, condemned the building plans and called on the United Nations to take action, particularly given the recent Security Council resolution condemning settlements.

“It is time to stop dealing with Israel as a state above the law,” he said.

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from West Jerusalem, said that with Trump now in the White House, the Israeli government believes it can build illegal settlements on Palestinian land without facing much criticism.

“They think that this is a retooling of the relationship with the US,” Khan said. “Under President Trump, the Israelis feel that they will have a lot more leeway to build on Palestinian land,” he added. “And this is a message to the world that they can build wherever they want, including on the land of a future Palestinian state.”

Source – Al Jazeera