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December 6, 2017



Global alarm as Trump mulls fateful Occupied-al-Quds move: Arab League warns US

CAIRO: The Arab League on Tuesday warned the United States against recognising Occupied al-Quds as Israel’s capital, describing such a move as "clear aggression" against Arabs.

The pan-Arab bloc held a delegates-level meeting at its Cairo headquarters, with Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit saying they had convened "given the danger of this matter". "If it were to happen", he said, it would have "possible negative consequences not only for the situation in Palestine but also for the Arab and Islamic region".

"Successive American presidents since 1980 have realised its importance and the extent it threatens regional stability," Abul Gheit said. "This decision would end the US role as a trusted mediator between the Palestinians and the Israeli occupying forces."

US President Donald Trump on Monday delayed a decision on the highly contentious issue -- a crucial question in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- after public warnings from allies and private phone calls between world leaders.

Trump has yet to take a final decision, US officials have said, but he is now expected to stop short of moving the embassy to Jerusalem -- though he may still recognise the city as Israel’s capital.

Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Occupied-al-Quds as their capital, and previous peace plans have stumbled over debates on whether, and how, to divide sovereignty or oversee holy sites.

In a statement after Tuesday’s meeting, the Arab League delegates said in a resolution that the move would constitute "a clear assault on the Arab nation and the rights of Palestinians and all Muslims and Christians".

Meanwhile, world leaders on Tuesday warned US President Donald Trump he risked inflaming the Muslim world and jeopardising peace efforts if he recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the US embassy there.

"Mr Trump! Jerusalem is a red line for Muslims," Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a raucous televised speech, echoing alarm expressed by Palestinian and Arab leaders. Trump had been due to take a decision on the Holy City on Monday but delayed it by several days following a string of public and private warnings from leaders around the globe.

Occupied-al-Quds is one of the most thorny issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with both sides claiming it as their capital. In his address, Erdogan warned that any move to back Israel’s claim to the city would mobilise "the entire Islamic world" and even prompt Ankara to sever its recently-renewed diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.

Most of the international community, including the United States, does not formally recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, insisting the issue can only be resolved in final status negotiations.

And the suggestion that Trump could be poised to reverse years of US policy has prompted a furious bout of Palestinian lobbying, with the armed Islamist Hamas movement threatening to launch a new "intifada" or uprising.

Central to the issue of recognition is the question of the US embassy. All foreign embassies are located in Tel Aviv with consular representation in Jerusalem. Trump had been expected on Monday to decide whether to sign a legal waiver that would delay by six months plans to move the US embassy.

"No action though will be taken on the waiver today and we will declare a decision on the waiver in the coming days," White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said. But he insisted the move would eventually happen. "The president has been clear on this issue from the get-go: It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when."