Palestinian President Abbas says U.S. Embassy move would hurt peace

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 14, 2017 6:59 AM

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday that if U.S. president-elect Donald Trump goes through with plans to transfer Washington's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem it will hurt the peace process.

"We are waiting to see if it happens. If it does it will not help peace and we hope it does not happen," Abbas told reporters outside the Vatican gates minutes after discussing the Middle East situation with Pope Francis.

Abbas, who spoke through an interpreter, stopped in Rome to open the new embassy of the State of Palestine to the Vatican. He stopped in Rome on his way to Paris for a Middle East peace conference.

Trump's promise to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would upend decades of U.S. policy. Israel and the Palestinians, who are seeking a state of their own, both claim Jerusalem as their capital. Successive U.S. administrations have said the city’s status must be negotiated.

Jerusalem, which Israeli has declared its "united and eternal capital," is home to sites sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians. The Vatican also backs a two-state solution.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Angus MacSwan)