'Nothing Abbas can do to block US embassy move to Jerusalem'

Minister mocks threats by Palestinian Authority over planned move of US embassy to Jerusalem. 'They're shooting themselves in the head.'

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David Rosenberg,

Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Hadas Parush/Flash 90

While the Palestinian Authority has issued repeated warnings against the planned relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the Israeli capital of Jerusalem, one Likud minister said the threats amounted to little more than a storm in a tea cup.

Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi spoke with reporters on Monday regarding the dire warnings of violence and regional destabilization made by senior PA leaders, mocking them as empty threats.

Last week, a spokesperson for PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction warned that relocating the US Embassy to Jerusalem would “open the gates of hell” – the latest effort by PA leaders to deter the incoming Trump administration from making good on the campaign’s promise vis-à-vis the embassy.

Abbas himself warned moving the embassy would “bury” hopes for peace and “fuel extremism” worldwide. The Palestinian Authority leader has reportedly lobbied Russian President Vladimir Putin to intercede on his behalf with Trump and to dissuade him from implementing the move.

But Hanegbi ridiculed the PA’s efforts, adding that warnings of dire consequences were utterly baseless.

"What can they do? What can they do? There are not going to be any consequences."

The Likud minister also pushed back on suggestions the Palestinian Authority itself could instigate a new intifada as retribution for moving the embassy.

"This is not a threat. This is shooting themselves in the head," Hanegbi said. "I don't think Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas’ alias] has an interest to open an intifada, I don't think the Palestinians would like another intifada."

Hanegbi said he did not expect a "domino effect," and that most other countries would keep their embassies in Tel Aviv.

"It is a decision reflecting the special relationship between Israel and the United States. It is not going to be a domino effect."

AFP contributed to this report.