ISTANBUL/JERUSALEM – The Palestinian Authority and the Turkish government condemned on Saturday the United States’ decision to inaugurate its new Jerusalem embassy in May, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s Independence Day.
Palestinians view the May 14, 1948 declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel as a national catastrophe, and on May 15 mark what they call Nakba (Catastrophe) Day.
The timing of the embassy’s opening was slammed by a Palestinian Authority spokesman, Yousef al-Mahmoud, who said the US decision was offensive and “a clear and explicit violation of United Nations resolutions and all humanitarian and international laws.”
No other nation has moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians mandated that the city’s final status be settled by negotiations.
“What (US President Donald) Trump did was award our Arab holy city, the capital of the State of Palestine, to others, in a step that has not happened before in history, except through the arrogance of occupation and colonialism,” the spokesman added, according to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.
The Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement that Ankara will continue to exert efforts, along with the majority of international community, with a view to protecting the “legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.”
Palestinians see East Jerusalem, which was occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed in 1980, as the capital of their future state.
The US State Department announced on Friday the Jerusalem embassy would open in May, to be located in the same building that at present houses the US Consulate in the Arnona neighborhood, chosen by Washington 30 years ago as the possible seat of its diplomacy in Israel.
On Dec. 6, Trump ordered the US Embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, causing a rift between the US and the European Union over efforts to revive the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Trump’s response to criticism of the embassy decision has been to double down on his plan, and in a speech on Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, he bragged about taking the decision despite the fact that, as he said, other countries had begged him “Don’t do it, don’t do it.”
When first announced, the White House said the move could take three or four years.