(dpa/NAN) The suggestion that the next U.S. Ambassador to Israel might relocate the embassy to Jerusalem has roiled the region on Friday and had led to Palestinians sending a serious warning to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, a report has said.
Israelis and Palestinians tried to assess the impact of such a specific, but weighty, change in U.S. policy.
Israel has long considered Jerusalem to be its capital.
However, since the Palestinian Authority would like to make East Jerusalem the capital of an eventual state, picking Jerusalem as the site of its embassy would be a clear signal of favouring one side over the other.
To avoid this, most countries have set up their embassies in Tel Aviv.
However, in countries like America, with a vocal Jewish population, there are frequent calls for a move to Jerusalem, which are usually backed by the executive and the legislature.
However, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said several times during his campaign that he would prefer a site in Jerusalem.
Those comments received extra weight after his pick for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, said this week that he expected to be based in Jerusalem.
The possibility was met with outrage by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO).
“Such a step, should it happen, is a serious violation of international rights and resolutions,’’ PLO executive committee member Wasel Abu Yousef said about the relocation.
“This could have serious consequences, not just for the Palestine issue, but for the region as a whole.’’
The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not comment on the report.
However, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely did release a statement praising the Thursday choice of Friedman.
“His positions reflect the desire to strengthen the standing of Israel’s capital Jerusalem at this time and to underscore that the settlements have never been the true problem in the area,’’ she said.
But representatives from liberal Jewish organisations expressed concern.
“The position he advocates is more extreme than any government of Israel has stated,’’ said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the union for Reform Judaism, in comments carried by Haaretz.
Jacobs also pointed to comments by Friedman where the new ambassador said he would prefer for the West Bank to be annexed by Israel more than he would prefer a two-state solution.
The question of territorial control is never far from the surface between Israel and the Palestinians.
The state of Israel was carved from the territory in the years after World War II.
More and more Palestinians have been displaced in subsequent wars by the two peoples, leading to regular outbreaks of violence.
Israel claims Jerusalem as the “undivided, eternal capital of the Jewish people’’.
The claim extends to the Arabic east of the city, which was seized by Israel during the six-day war in 1967.
Palestinians, by contrast, see East Jerusalem as the future capital of an independent Palestinian state.
Trump has already said he intends to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and recognise the city as Israel’s capital.
The international community does not recognise Jerusalem as the capital, which is why most embassies are based in Tel Aviv.