US embassy Jerusalem move ‘assault’ on Muslims: Grand Mufti

Jerusalem: Grand Mufti of Jerusalem on Friday branded plans by President-elect Donald Trump to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem an “assault” on Muslims across the globe.

“The pledge to move the embassy is not just an assault against Palestinians but against Arabs and Muslims, who will not remain silent,” Muhammad Hussein said in a sermon at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City.

On Tuesday, Palestinian leaders called for Friday prayers at mosques across the Middle East this week to protest Trump’s campaign pledge.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to help stop the United States moving its embassy to Jerusalem, a top Palestinian official said Friday.

Saeb Erekat said he had passed on the message from Abbas to Putin during a visit to Moscow during which he met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“The letter asks President Putin to do what he can about the information we have that President-elect Donald Trump will move the embassy to Jerusalem, which for us is a red line and dangerous,” Erekat said.

Erekat has warned that the move, which could symbolize recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, could inflame tensions in the Middle East and sink peace efforts. He has also said the PLO would revoke its recognition of Israel if Trump moves the embassy.

“The transfer of the embassy violates international charters and norms which recognise Jerusalem as an occupied city,” Hussein said in his sermon, without naming Trump.

The Palestinians regard East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while Israel proclaims the entire city as its capital.

The city’s status is one of the thorniest issues of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967. It later annexed the city’s Arab eastern sector, in a move never recognised by the international community.

Muhammad Shtayeh, a senior Palestinian official and Fatah central committee member, said on Tuesday that the Palestinian leadership had been informed by diplomatic contacts that Trump could call for the move in his inauguration speech on January 20.

The Palestinians have added the issue to the agenda of a meeting of foreign ministers from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on January 19 in Malaysia, he added.

Agence France-Presse