By Ali Sawafta and Nidal al-Mughrabi
West Bank, GAZA (Reuters) – Palestinians reacted on Friday with anger to reports that the United States will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem within months.
Palestinians claim the eastern part of the city as the capital of a future state, and Trump’s move has also angered Arab political and religious leaders across the region.
“This is an unacceptable step. Any unilateral move will not give legitimacy to anyone and will be an obstacle to any effort to create peace in the region,” said Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas.
Abbas has rejected U.S.-led Middle East peace efforts as “impossible” since President Donald Trump’s Dec 6. decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and to move the U.S. Embassy there.
A U.S. officials told Reuters on Friday that the United States was expected to open its embassy to Israel in Jerusalem in May.
Abu Rdainah said that the “only way to achieve peace, security and stability” was Abbas’s proposal – outlined in his Feb. 20 address to the United Nations Security Council in New York – that there should be an international conference to kick-start the stalled peace process with Israel, including a “multilateral mechanism” to oversee it.
Abbas is still in the United States after undergoing medical checks in Baltimore on Thursday, Abu Rdaineh said. He said the Palestinian leader would be leaving the United States on Saturday.
In Gaza a Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, said: “Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is a declaration of war against the Arab and Muslim nation, and the U.S administration must reconsider its move.”
Clashes erupted in Gaza and the West Bank earlier Friday, in a weekly protest against Trump’s stance on Jerusalem. A spokesman for the Gaza health ministry said 25 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli live fire during stone throwing clashes along the fence with Israel in Gaza.
Palestinian health officials said at least 20 Palestinians, most of them in Gaza, have been killed in protests against Trump’s decision since the Dec. 6 announcement.
An Israeli government source said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in contact with the U.S. Administration and would respond if and when an American announcement was made on the planned U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem.
(Reporting by Ali Sawafta and Nidal al-Mughrabi; Writing by Stephen Farrell)