Abbas warns over U.S. Israel Embassy move

Giuseppe Lami/ANSA pool via AP

Pope Francis is presented with a gift by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a private audience at the Vatican on Saturday.

AFP-Jiji VATICAN CITY (AFP-Jiji) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned Saturday that moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem would deal a huge blow to hopes for Middle East peace.

Commenting as he opened a Palestinian Embassy at the Vatican, Abbas added that anything which legitimized the “illegal Israeli annexation” of Jerusalem would “bury the hopes for a two-state solution, and fuel extremism in our region.”

The Palestinian leader held a private meeting with Pope Francis before inaugurating the diplomatic mission, located in a building facing the Vatican that also houses the embassies of Peru and Burkina Faso.

Speaking briefly to reporters, Abbas reiterated his opposition to the possible transfer of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as U.S. President-elect Donald Trump had indicated he might do.

“We cannot say anything yet because it has not happened, but if this does happen it will not help the peace process. I hope it will not happen,” said Abbas, speaking in Arabic.

In a separate English-language statement, he hailed the Vatican’s hosting of a Palestinian Embassy.

“We are very grateful about the role that the Holy See has played for a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land, and for having opened an embassy of Palestine in the Vatican for first time,” he said.Speech

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