A senior Palestinian official has warned US President-elect Donald Trump against moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds, saying such a move would lead to the “destruction” of the so-called Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), made the remarks at an event in the town of Beit Jala, near the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, on Friday, adding that the move would push the region into further turmoil.
Erekat's comments came a day after Trump announced his decision to nominate hardliner David Friedman as the US ambassador to Israel.
Friedman is notorious for his fervent support of Israel’s illegal settlement expansion in the occupied territories, and has been characterized as an “obstacle to peace” by successive US administrations. He has said that he plans to work at “the US embassy in Israel's eternal capital, Jerusalem.”
Erekat, however, adopted a resolute stance against the decision, saying, “I look David Friedman and Trump in the eye and tell them if you were to take these steps of moving the embassy and annexing settlements in the West Bank, you are sending this region down the path of something that I call chaos, lawlessness and extremism.”
The development came more than a week after Israeli lawmakers approved a hugely-controversial bill legalizing some 4,000 settler units built on private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, in the first of three readings needed to turn it into law.
The United States, Israel’s strongest ally, Germany, the country least critical of Tel Aviv in Europe, United Nations officials, and the European Union have strongly criticized the bill.
More than half a million Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.
Built on occupied land, the settlements are internationally condemned as illegal and equal to land grab.
The Palestinian Authority wants the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinians state, with East al-Quds as its capital.
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