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What a US embassy in Jerusalem means to Palestinians

What a US embassy in Jerusalem means to Palestinians
From Al Jazeera - November 29, 2017

New comments by US officials reiterating a pledge by President Donald Trump to move the country's embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem reflect the futility of peace negotiations, Palestinians say.

US Vice President Mike Pence said on Tuesday that Trump is "actively" exploring "when and how" to relocate the embassy.

He made the remarks while attending a United Nations event marking the 70th anniversary of a vote for thepartition of Palestine, which aided Israel in establishing a Jewish state.

During his election campaign last year, Trump repeatedly promised to move the embassy and recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

In June however, like his predecessors, Trump signed a six-monthwaiverto delay the relocation, which would have complicated US efforts to resume the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The White House said at the time that the question is "not if that move happens, but only when".

The waiver expires on December 1, and the Trump administration has not yet announced whether it plans to renew it for an additional six months.

The controversial pledge, if implemented, would make the US the first country to have its embassy in Jerusalem -currently, all such diplomatic missions are located in Tel Aviv.

It would also overturn decades of international consensus on Jerusalem,a highly-contested city, half of which was occupied and annexed by Israel following the 1967 War.

"If the relocation happens, it would be the first of its kind and would reaffirm to Israel that Jerusalem is 'one and unified'," Zakaria Odeh, director of the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, told Al Jazeera.

"It is a very dangerous step," he said. "It would nullify any plans for future negotiations [on the conflict]."

Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its "united" capital, and its annexation of East Jerusalem effectively put the entire city under de-facto Israeli control. The Palestinians, however, see East Jerusalemas the capital of their future state.

The international community, including the US, does not recognise Israel's jurisdiction and ownership of the city.

Palestinians say that moving the embassy would prejudge one of the most sensitive issues in the conflict - the status of Jerusalem - and undermine the US' status as an honest mediator.

Earlier this year, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had warned against the embassy's move, in an official letter addressed to Trump.

'Blackmail campaign'

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