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Middle East Trump pours gasoline on peace process

US sop to Israel threatens to spark new violence

PALESTINE warned yesterday that US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would “destroy the peace process” and fuel violence across the Middle East.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Foreign Minister Riyad Malki briefed EU diplomats in the occupied Palestinian capital Ramallah before US President Donald Trump’s expected announcement.

Mr Hamdallah said the move would “destroy the peace process and the two-state solution.”

He added that it would  “inflame the conflict and increase violence in the region since Jerusalem is not only a Palestinian concern but it concerns all Arab and Islamic peoples.”

Palestine claims Israeli-occupied east Jerusalem, home to the Jordanian-administered al-Aqsa Mosque, as the future capital of an independent state.

PLO executive committee member and veteran peace negotiator Hanan Ashrawi met French consul-general Pierre Cochard at the movement’s headquarters in Ramallah.

Her office said the discussion focused “on the detrimental outcomes of such an irresponsible and dangerous move and how it will destroy the chances of peace, stability and security indefinitely, unleashing a religious war and sectarian strife in the region and beyond.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was set to chair a urgent government meeting following Mr Trump’s announcement.

He called earlier for maximum national unity, following the recent reconciliation with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, to face the grave dangers ahead.

“We have worked for the success of reconciliation. We have instructed the government to go to the Gaza Strip to work on finding solutions to the daily suffering of our people,” he said.

In Gaza, demonstrators burnt US and Israeli flags in protest.

Earlier this year Mr Trump renewed the waiver on 1995 legislation mandating the US embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

World leaders warned Washington against declaring Jerusalem, already home to the Knesset parliament and many ministries, the capital of Israel.

But US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson claimed at a Nato foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels yesterday that there is still “a very good opportunity” to conclude the peace process.

He said people should “listen carefully” to Mr Trump’s speech. Mr Tillerson insisted the president was “very committed” to peace, which his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner’s team was working “very diligently” to achieve.


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