Abbas aide: Moving American embassy a 'declaration of war'

Mahmoud Al-Habbash, senior advisor to PA chairman, warns Donald Trump in a sermon not to move the American embassy to Jerusalem.

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Current location of the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv
Current location of the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv
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Moving the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be a “declaration of war”, a senior advisor to Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas has warned.

Mahmoud Al-Habbash, who is Abbas’s advisor on religious and Islamic affairs, made the comments in a sermon on Friday which was broadcast on PA TV and attended by Abbas himself.

The contents of the sermon were exposed by the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) organization.

"The new American administration intends to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem. In a simple, calm, and rational manner, in clear words that need no explanation and which are unambiguous: Such a step, for every Muslim, is a declaration of war on all Muslims,” Habbash said in his sermon.

“We are no one’s enemies, and we do not want to be. We are not enemies of the U.S. and we do not want to be. However, when something harms our faith and our existence, we cannot stand by and do nothing. We will not agree to this under any circumstances. This will not pass in silence... The entire Muslim world will not accept it, and the entire Christian world will not accept it. Occupied Jerusalem is our eternal capital, the capital of our existence and the capital of our state,” he warned.

Habbash further stressed that “it isn't possible to compromise on or negotiate over Jerusalem.”

Trump repeatedly promised during the campaign to move the embassy if elected. His campaign manager Kellyanne Conway indicated last month that moving the embassy to Jerusalem "is a very big priority” for Trump, while media reports in Israel at the time indicated the transition team for Trump is already looking into possible locations in Jerusalem for the embassy.

Habbash’s comments are the latest in a series of warnings by PA officials against Trump moving the embassy.

Just this past Friday, Abbas warned Trump against moving the American embassy, saying that such a move would be crossing a "red line" and could jeopardize peace prospects.

Earlier in the week the PA chairman warned of “serious implications” if the embassy is moved, saying, “Moving the embassy will have serious consequences not only for the Palestinian people, but also for the legitimacy of the entire international struggle against the occupation.”

At the same time Abbas, who spoke with a visiting delegation from the Meretz party, said he does not believe that Trump would actually follow through with the move.