Obama warns: Moving the embassy could be explosive

Obama warns against “sudden, unilateral moves”, an apparent reference to Trump's intention to move the American embassy to Jerusalem.

Nitsan Keidar ,

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

Outgoing President Barack Obama on Wednesday warned his successor Donald Trump against “sudden, unilateral moves” related to the Israeli-Palestinian Authority (PA) conflict, in what appeared be a reference to Trump’s intention to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"The President-elect will have his own policy," Obama told reports as he held a final news conference, two days before leaving office.

"But obviously it's a volatile environment. What we have seen in the past is when some unilateral moves are made that speak to some of the core issues and sensitivities of either side, that can be explosive," he warned.

During his election campaign, Trump pledged several times that he would move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in recognition of Jerusalem being Israel’s capital.

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.

The PA opposes the move as it wants eastern Jerusalem to be the capital of its desired Palestinian state. In recent weeks, PA officials have repeatedly warned Trump that moving the embassy would harm the peace process.

In his remarks on Wednesday, Obama also stated that the status quo in the Israeli-PA conflict is unsustainable and said that the only solution is the “two-state solution”.

"I don't see how this issue gets resolved in a way that maintains Israel as both Jewish and a democracy if there are not two states," said Obama, who also defended his decision to abstain in the vote on UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned Israel’s presence in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.

"The goal of the UN resolution was to say the growth of the settlements will increasingly make a two-state solution impossible," the President stated, adding, "It was important for us to send a signal, a wakeup call that this moment may be passing."