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Palestinians have no power to stop US embassy relocation: Israeli minister

Palestinians walk past the Dome of Rock at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound before the Friday Prayers in the occupied Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds on January 13, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Israel says Palestinians have no power whatsoever to bar incoming United States President Donald Trump from transferring the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds, amid stern warnings by Palestinian authorities who have called the move a red line crossing which would trigger profound consequences.

Israel’s Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi made the provocative remarks on Monday, adding that Palestinians were powerless to stop the move.

“What can they do? What can they do? There are not going to be any consequences,” he said in a briefing to reporters in Jerusalem al-Quds.

Trump repeatedly said during his campaign that if elected, he would not hesitate to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds, which is regarded by Palestinians as their future capital. The controversial decision has evoked bitter opposition from Palestinians.

Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state in the territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds and the besieged Gaza Strip, with East al-Quds as the capital.

Earlier in the month, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned that “any statement or position that disrupts or changes the status of Jerusalem [al-Quds] is a red line which we will never accept.” On Saturday, he also denounced the potential transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv, where it has been for the past 68 years.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has already warned the US against moving its embassy to Jerusalem al-Quds, saying all American embassies in the Arab world would have to close in the face of popular Arab outrage that would follow such an action.

Back in December, PLO Secretary General Sa’eb Erekat said the potential move would deliver a death blow to any prospect of the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and would have his organization rescind all agreements with Tel Aviv. Erekat also said the move would lead to the “destruction” of the so-called Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Hanegbi’s inflammatory comments also came a day after French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault warned of “extremely serious consequences” if Donald fulfills his controversial election campaign promise.

“I don't think Abbas has an interest to open an intifada (uprising), I don't think the Palestinians would like another intifada,” Hanegbi further said, adding that the controversial decision reflected the special ties between Tel Aviv and Washington.

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