Palestinians: We’ll sever ties with nations that open a Jerusalem embassy

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Trump has pushed for other countries to relocate their embassies to Jerusalem, and was the person who announced the Serbian and Kosovo decision.

Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat meets with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi (not pictured) in Amman, Jordan, September 6, 2020. (photo credit: MUHAMMED HAMED / REUTERS)

Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat meets with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi (not pictured) in Amman, Jordan, September 6, 2020.

(photo credit: MUHAMMED HAMED / REUTERS)

The Palestinian Authority will sever ties with any country that opens an embassy to Israel in Jerusalem, a top Palestinian official warned on Sunday, after Serbia and Kosovo announced that they will be doing so in the near future.

“Palestine will sever its relations with any country that will move or open its embassy to Jerusalem,” PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General Saeb Erekat tweeted on Sunday.

“We urge all nation states to abide by international law, including Security Council resolutions 478 and 2334. Violating [international] law is a sign of weakness not strength,” Erekat said.

“The most obvious violation of international law is Israel’s annexation of east Jerusalem, and any recognition of such illegal annexation in any form is not only [a] flagrant violation of international law, but also total disrespect for the UN charter and the relevant UN resolutions.

“International law specified occupation by force of other people’s territory is the highest form of terrorism. Enough lies and blackmail. No one can normalize Israeli settlements, annexation and occupation.”

Israel annexed east Jerusalem in the aftermath of the 1967 war and formalized that move in 1980.

The international community rejected that annexation and has refused to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It has withheld recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital until a final status agreement is reached for a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the pre-1967 lines, with east Jerusalem as the capital of that Palestinian state.

Under US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, most of Jerusalem, except for Israeli-Arab neighborhoods on the other side of the security barrier, would be part of a united Jerusalem.

Already in 2017, the US recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocated its embassy there in 2018. The only other country to follow suit was Guatemala. Honduras has pledged to move its embassy, but has yet to do so.

Trump has pushed for other countries to relocate their embassies to Jerusalem, and was the person who announced the Serbian and Kosovo decision, while the leaders of those two countries were present in the Oval Office with him.

They were there as part of a US-brokered rapprochement, in which the two former foes would normalize economic ties.

Erekat pointed to a short video clip heavily publicized on Twitter that showed President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic looking at pages on his clipboard as Trump spoke. Pundits have theorized that it almost looked as if he had no idea that a Jerusalem embassy move was in the offing and was double-checking the text.

Political scientist Jeremy Mujanović had tweeted of that moment, “Footage that certainly makes it appear that Vucic did not realize he had agreed to moving the Serbian embassy to Jerusalem – or at least not by July, Trump states. Comedy of errors.”

Serbia has ties with both the Palestinian Authority and Israel and has been a strong supporter of a two-state resolution based on the pre-1967 line. In 2018, it was one of 128 UN member states that condemned the US decision to open a Jerusalem embassy.

But Serbia appears to have been having a change of heart on Jerusalem with Serbian president Aleksander Vucic promising at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Conference earlier this year to open an office in Jerusalem with a Serbian flags. According to Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat, a Serbian delegation is expected to visit Israel this week to discuss opening a Chamber of Commerce office in Jerusalem.

Kosovo’s leaders have left no question with regard to their stance, publicly tweeting about the pledge for a Jerusalem embassy.

Kosovo is fighting its own battle for sovereignty recognition, having unilaterally broken from Serbia in 2008. To date, only 97 nations have recognized it as a sovereign state. Israel would be the 98th state to do so.

Kosovo has long sought Israeli recognition. But Israel had hesitated to recognize Kosovo, in part due to the implications in regards to the Palestinian unilateral request for sovereignty recognition.

Turkey was among the first group of countries to recognize Kosovo in 2008, but upon hearing of its intention to open an embassy in Jerusalem, it warned Sunday that such a step could harm Kosovo’s pursuit of additional sovereignty recognitions.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry stated on Sunday that it was disappointed Kosovo would consider a step that constituted a “clear violation of international law.”

“It has been repeatedly emphasized by various UN resolutions that the Palestinian conflict can only be settled through the establishment of an independent, sovereign and contiguous State of Palestine based on the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital,” the Foreign Ministry said.

“We call upon the leadership of Kosovo to comply with these resolutions and refrain from acts that would harm the historical and legal status of Jerusalem, and that would prevent Kosovo from being recognized by other states in the future.”

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