President Trump told Israeli and Arab leaders Tuesday that he plans to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a decision that will put in motion his plans to move the U.S. embassy to the divided city.

Mr. Trump is expected to announce his decision Wednesday over the vehement objections of Arab leaders. He made separate phone calls Tuesday to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

Mr. Abbas warned Mr. Trump “of the dangerous consequences such a decision would have to the peace process and to the peace, security and stability of the region and of the world,” said Abbas spokesman Nail Abu Rdainah.

Likewise, King Abdullah II told Mr. Trump that moving the U.S. embassy could have “serious” consequences for the region’s stability. Jordan, a longtime ally of the U.S., borders Israel.

Because moving the embassy requires a lengthy logistical process, it would not take place immediately. The president will likely sign a waiver authorizing the U.S. to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv for another six months, as other presidents have done since a 1995 law requiring them to make the periodic decision.

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Various leaders also are warning Mr. Trump that the decision could scuttle the peace talks he hopes to revive, or prompt more violence.

“King Abdullah stressed that the adoption of this resolution will have serious implications for security and stability in the Middle East, and will undermine the efforts of the American administration to resume the peace process and fuel the feelings of Muslims and Christians,” a statement from the Jordanian government said.

A top European Union official told Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson Tuesday that an announcement about Jerusalem could spoil the prospects for resuming Middle East peace talks. EU High Representative Vice President Federica Mogherini in Brussels said that she and Mr. Tillerson discussed the need for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

“We believe any action that would undermine these efforts must absolutely be avoided,” Ms. Mogherini said. “A way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states so that the aspiration of both parties can be fulfilled.”

Mr. Tillerson didn’t mention Jerusalem in his remarks to reporters.

Several Muslim-majority nations have expressed concern over the possible recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said moving the Israeli capital is a “red line” for Muslims, and that such an action would result in Turkey cutting diplomatic ties with Israel.

Jerusalem is claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians, and the international community generally does not recognize the city as the capital of Israel. Most countries, including the U.S., have their embassies in Tel Aviv and keep consulates in Jerusalem.

French President Emmanuel Macron told Mr. Trump in a phone call Monday that he’s concerned about the possibility that the U.S. might unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Mr. Macron “reaffirmed that the status of Jerusalem must be resolved through peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians,” France’s embassy said in a statement.

Mr. Trump faced the deadline this week that occurs every six months to either announce the U.S. embassy will move to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv or delay a decision, as required by the 1995 law. Every U.S. president since Bill Clinton has waived that requirement.

In a show of support for Israel, the House passed on a voice vote Tuesday the Taylor Force Act, which would cut off most foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority unless it meets certain conditions, chief among those stopping “martyr payments” to the families of dead terrorists.

The House sponsor, Rep. Doug Lamborn, Colorado Republican, called the vote “an important statement from America against terrorism.”

The bill was named for Taylor Force, a 28-year-old Army veteran and Vanderbilt University graduate student who was slain during a 2016 stabbing attack while on a school trip to Tel Aviv.

The family of the assailant, who was shot and killed by police, has received monthly payments from the Palestinian Authority Martyr’s Fund, which gives an estimated $300 million annually to terrorists and their families in what critics have denounced as “pay to slay.”

A companion bill has been passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but awaits a floor vote.

• Valerie Richardson contributed to this report

© Copyright (c) 2017 News World Communications, Inc.


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