The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has sought to rally last-minute diplomatic support to persuadeDonald Trump not to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, amid persistent speculation that he might do so in a speech this week.
The suggestion that Trump might unilaterally recognise Jerusalem – parts of which Palestinians also claim for the capital of their own future state – has been circulating in recent days as the US president deliberates on whether to renew the six-monthly waiver to a law mandating the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The deadline for Trump to sign the waiver falls on Monday. It has been claimed – including by his son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, on Sunday evening – that he has still not decided what to do.
Kushner – who was speaking at the Saban Forum in Washington for the first time at length in public about his role in the Middle East peace process – said the president was “still looking at a lot of facts”, and he did not deny that Trump was considering the issue.
The suggestion that Trump could recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was being touted as a step short of moving the embassy. While largely symbolic, it is being fiercely opposed by a number of countries in the region.
Among those adding their voices to stark warnings against the move was the Arab League leader, Ahmed Abul Gheit, who said his organisation was closely following the issue and was in contact with the Palestinian authorities and Arab states to coordinate a position if Trump takes that step.
“It is unfortunate that some are insisting on carrying out this step without any regard to the dangers it carries to the stability of the Middle East and the whole world,” he said in Cairo on Sunday.
“Nothing justifies this act … it will not serve peace or stability, instead it will nourish fanaticism and violence.”
The White House was warned again last week by US foreign policy and security officials of the risks to US diplomacy and security in the region raised by moving the embassy.
Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, tweeted that he had contacted the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, over the risks of recognising Jerusalem.
“Spoke with #US Secretary of State Tillerson on dangerous consequences of recognising Jerusalem as capital of Israel. Such a decision would trigger anger across #Arab #Muslim worlds, fuel tension jeopardise peace efforts,” Safadi wrote.
Abbas placed a series of phone calls on Sunday with world leaders both to “explain the dangers of any decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem or recognise [Jerusalem] as Israel’s capital,” a spokesman said.
Abbas told a group of visiting Arab lawmakers from Israel: “Any American step related to the recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, or moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, represents a threat to the future of the peace process and is unacceptable for the Palestinians, Arabs and internationally.”
Abbas has called Arab leaders, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Erdoğan told Abbas that an independent Palestinian state must have East Jerusalem as its capital, the Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Speaking to Fox News on Sunday, Trump’s national security adviser, HR McMaster, said the president’s advisers had presented him with a number of options on the issue.
“There are options involving the move of an embassy at some point in the future, which I think could be used to gain momentum toward a peace agreement and a solution that works both for Israelis and for Palestinians,” McMaster said.