RAMALLAH, Palestine (AA) – The Palestinian government has decried a U.S. decision to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May.
This move “directly and deliberately violates the identity and existence of the Palestinian people”, the government said in a statement on Saturday.
On Friday, Washington said it was ready to open the new embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, the day the state of Israel was established and officially recognized by Washington in 1948.
The Palestinian government said the date for the relocation of the embassy was chosen “to hurt the feelings of the people in the Arab world”.
On Dec. 6, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, triggering outcry in the Arab world and protests in the Palestinians territories that killed dozens.
“This is an unacceptable step,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said in a statement.
“Unilateral steps will not give legitimacy to anyone and will hinder efforts to provide peace in the region,” he added.
Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organization (POL), said in a press statement that Trump and his team “were no longer part of the Israel-Palestine solution and had become part of the problem”.
Jerusalem remains at the heart of the decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem -- now occupied by Israel -- might eventually serve as capital of an independent Palestinian state.
Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, during the 1967 Middle East war.
In a move never recognized by the international community, Israel annexed the entire city in 1980 claiming it as its "eternal and undivided” capital.
International law continues to view the West Bank and East Jerusalem as "occupied territories" and considers all Jewish settlement construction there as illegal.