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15 May, 2017 10:17

Moving US embassy would help peace by ‘shattering Palestinian fantasy’ – Israeli PM

Moving US embassy would help peace by ‘shattering Palestinian fantasy’ – Israeli PM

Responding to US concerns over a proposed move of the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the move would help the Israeli-Palestinian peace process by undermining Palestinians’ claim on the city.

The relocation of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was one of US President Donald Trump’s campaign promises. In 1995, the US Congress passed a law enacting such a move, but a series of presidential waivers blocked it. The latest one signed by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama expires on June 1, and Trump may choose not to renew it.

The Israeli government is strongly for the move, which would strengthen Israel’s claim on Jerusalem as a single undivided capital of the country. Palestinians, who want to see the city as capital of a future Palestinian state and oppose Israel’s continued occupation of its eastern part, are against the idea.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that the decision is still being weighed by the White House because of the harm it would cause to the Middle East peace process.

“I think it'll be informed, again, by the parties that are involved in those talks and most certainly...whether Israel views it as being helpful to a peace initiative or perhaps a distraction,” Tillerson told NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’.

It was the first time a senior Trump administration officials acknowledged that moving the embassy may deteriorate the situation. But Israel was quick to dismiss the concerns, claiming that the planned relocation would do the opposite.

“Moving the American embassy to Jerusalem will not harm the peace process. It will do the opposite,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement. “It will advance it by righting an historical wrong and by shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel.”

Trump is to visit Israel during his first foreign trip as the head of state this week.