Saeb Erekat, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and chief Palestinian negotiator with the Israelis, has traveled to Russia on a mission to deliver a “written message” from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the Russian government.
“It is asking President Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s intervention in order to sit with the American administration to prevent the American embassy move to Jerusalem as there are consequences for this step,” Erekat said in Russia on Thursday, referring to the message.
There have been indications that the incoming administration of President-elect Trump would want to move the American embassy to East Jerusalem al-Quds in a sign of the recognition of the city as the capital of an Israeli “state.” This is while Palestinians want the West Bank, where East Jerusalem al-Quds is located and which Israel has occupied since 1967, as part of a future Palestinian state.
Erekat pointed to the international efforts to uproot terrorism and said, “You can’t kill ideas with bullets. In order to defeat Daesh and terrorism, you also need to solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem, end Israeli occupation, and establish a Palestinian state side by side with Israel.”
In a Friday interview with the French daily Le Figaro, Abbas warned that the Palestinians may consider “reversing recognition” of Israel if US President-elect Donald Trump moves the US embassy to Jerusalem al-Quds.
“I wrote to President[-elect] Trump to ask him not to do it. Not only would this move deprive the United States of all legitimacy in playing a role in conflict resolution, it would also destroy the two-state solution,” the Palestinian president said.
Abbas said that the PA was discussing “several options” with other Arab countries to respond to the potential relocation of the US embassy. Dropping recognition of Israel was one measure being contemplated, he said, expressing hope, however, that “we will be able to work with the next American administration.”
The remarks come in the lead-up to the Paris conference on the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Sunday. More than 70 countries, which will be participating in the meeting, are expected to reaffirm support for the two-state solution. Israel is deeply unsettled by the conference and has refused to participate in it.
The Paris meeting “may be the last chance for implementing” the two-state solution, Abbas said in his Le Figaro interview.
Trump, a former businessman with no background work in government or diplomacy, repeatedly said during his campaign that if elected, he would not hesitate to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds. While Trump is known for impulsive behavior and often flip-flopping rhetoric on world matters in the short period of time he has been involved in politics, his controversial rhetoric on Palestine has evoked strong opposition by Palestinians.
Erekat himself has previously warned the US against moving its embassy to Jerusalem al-Quds, saying all American embassies in the Arab world would have to close in the face of popular Arab outrage that would follow such an action.
On Tuesday, US Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Dean Heller introduced the so-called Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act after being sworn into the 115th Congress in Washington. Similar moves by Republican majorities over the past two decades have been unsuccessful, but this time, they are apparently supported by the country’s soon-to-be president.