Trump knocks over the Middle East apple cart


United States President Donald Trump has well and truly upset the apple cart in the Middle East with his decision to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

According to reports, the US president called the governments of Palestine, Jordan and Egypt to inform them of his decision.
An adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Shaath, Abbas personally briefed him on the call.

"Mr Trump told our president he was going to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," Shaath said.

Shaath, however, said that Trump had not given a time frame for the move. He also reportedly told Abbas that the US would make future moves that he believed the Palestinian people would find pleasing in exchange. He did not, however, offer any details.

"Our president said, 'You don't have anything that would make up for this on Jerusalem.' He said, 'Definitely, we will not accept it," Shaath said.

Shaath added that Abbas had warned Trump that he was "playing into the hands of extremism", but Trump was adamant that "he had to do it".

The Egyptian government also confirmed that Trump had called President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to discuss the move.

According to a statement released by the Egyptian government, el-Sissi was as adamant on "Egypt's unwavering position with regard to maintaining the legal status of Jerusalem within the framework of international references and relevant UN resolutions".

In Jordan, King Abdullah III said that Trump's intended move would undermine the US efforts to restart peace talks in the region.

The Saudi Press Agency also confirmed that King Salman bin Abdul Aziz had also received a call from Trump and that they had discussed the intended move.

The Saudi king reportedly reiterated that "such a dangerous step of relocation or recognition of Al-Quds as the capital of Israel would constitute a flagrant provocation of Muslims, all over the world," the agency reported.

Trump reportedly also has a phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scheduled.

Factions in Palestine jointly responded to the news by declaring three "days of rage" starting Wednesday, to protest the US embassy move.

They issued a statement urging supporters around the globe to gather in city centres and at Israel's embassies and consulates to voice their anger.

Turkish President REcep Tayyip Erdogan told his Parliament that recognition by the US of Jerusalem as Israel's capital would be a "red line" for Muslims, that could force Turkey to cut diplomatic ties with Israel.

The chief of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, also issued a warning from Cairo, Egypt, called any decision by the US that would impact on Jerusalem's legal and political status a "dangerous measure that would have repercussions" across the Middle East.

Trump has allowed the deadline to sign a waiver allowing the US embassy to remain in Tel Aviv to pass, but the White house has said that he was still considering his next move.

The waiver has been signed by every US president every six months for more than two decades.

No country has an embassy located in Jerusalem and there is a long-standing international understanding that its status should be decided in a peace deal between Israel and Palestine.

Shaath also pointed out that Trump had spoken of moving the embassy, rather than recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital.