Israel says it will ‘prevent’ U.S. moving its embassy to Jerusalem

By Francesco Guerrera, CNN

(CNN) — Israel doubled down against the United States on Thursday, claiming there is no room in Jerusalem for an American Consulate for Palestinians, and promising to “prevent a proposal to divide Jerusalem.”

At the Ein Kerem cultural center in Jerusalem, the Israeli Minister of Communications and Law Reform, Gilad Erdan, warned that “if a proposal were to come to divide Jerusalem,” Israel “will prevent it and will not allow it.”

“The proposal before you today is not the proposal,” Erdan said to a crowd of Palestinians gathered to hear Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestinian Football Association, speak.

Following a meeting with Erdan in Jerusalem, Rajoub said Erdan informed him about the proposed U.S. consulate plan, according to the Al Jazeera website.

The proposal, which calls for the planned U.S. Embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2022, would see Jerusalem “then divided into Bantustans,” Al Jazeera reported.

In his speech to the audience at Ein Kerem, Rajoub warned that “incitement against Jerusalem is increasing from both the U.S. and Israel.”

“You will soon learn that Jerusalem is a national priority of the Palestinian people. Jerusalem will remain united,” he said.

But Erdan said: “We have no time for division and contradiction. Jerusalem is one city under unified sovereignty.”

Erdan, who said the U.S. Congress has already endorsed the May 2022 Embassy move, denied media reports that the U.S. State Department is not taking forward a proposal, citing ongoing attempts to divide Jerusalem.

“The Israeli government, the Netanyahu government, is making a big effort to prevent a proposal to divide Jerusalem,” Erdan said.

“Today we are here in Jerusalem, we will continue to Jerusalem. We will prevent it and we will not allow it. Jerusalem is one city in sovereignty under unified sovereignty.”

But Erdan told Al Jazeera in a later interview that he was not addressing the proposed September 2022 move.

Rajoub, who was speaking to the audience before the Minister’s speech, said: “The U.S. Embassy will be in Jerusalem after the statehood status. It is not a question of two states or one state, it is Jerusalem. Jerusalem has been determined by the U.N. Security Council in 1967 and has not changed.”

He urged Palestinians living inside the West Bank and in east Jerusalem to unite around the Jerusalem issue.

“We want to unite our people around Jerusalem, to create a ‘political capital of Palestine’ and nothing will divide us,” he said.

Rajoub drew a parallel between the U.S. Embassy decision and the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December.

At the time, U.S. President Donald Trump urged the State Department to submit a proposal for a move to a new location — the existing U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem’s old city and Jewish quarter are in danger of renovation and slated for demolition by the Israeli authorities.

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