JERUSALEM — The State Department is warning U.S. diplomats and their families to avoid Jerusalem’s Old City. There are fears of violence after President Trump told Arab and Muslim leaders he has every intention of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and later moving the U.S. embassy to the city.
Palestinians have long desired their own state — with their capital in Jerusalem.
Despite the dire warnings across much of the Middle East, Mr. Trump is still getting high marks at a Jerusalem market.
“I love Trump — all the market love Trump,” said one vendor.
Moving the U.S. embassy was a campaign promise. And on Tuesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Mr. Trump told him it was his intention to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Abbas said he warned the president there would be grave consequences and possible violence if he does.
Eran Lerman called the Palestinians “delusional” if they thought even part of Jerusalem could be theirs. He called the world leaders “wrong” who are lining up against the U.S. making any adjustment in the situation.
“Driving a carving knife across and through and meandering across a living city would be a mistake,” Lerman said.
Both sides claim this city as their capital.
It is in the Old City of Jerusalem, which is also sacred to Christians, where you can get a sense of how difficult the real estate is to carve up. For example, the Western or Wailing Wall is one of the holiest sites for Jews, and beyond that is one of the domes of the Al-Aqsa mosque, one of the most sacred sites for Muslims.
“When you look at a place that is on the verge of an explosion, you do not introduce a flame,” said Hanan Ashrawi.
Ashrawi is on the PLO’s executive committee. While officials in the Trump administration have said that some of these moves could jumpstart peace, Ashrawi grimaced and said they would “scuttle peace.”
It’s unclear when this might happen — if at all. But reaction on the streets is already happening. Two Palestinian groups have called for protests and the U.S. government is warning its employees to stay away from parts of Jerusalem for fear of violence.
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