US issues concern for safety of citizens and personnel over Jerusalem announcement

BY JILL CUENI-COHEN / DECEMBER 7, 2017 /

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The U.S. government is suggesting Israel show restraint in its response to the news that Washington, D.C., will recognize Jerusalem as the country’s capital, Reuters reported Thursday, citing a State Department document.

The document regarding Washington’s concern about backlash in the Middle East was sent to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, as well as to U.S. officials at several European embassies.

“We expect there to be resistance to this news in the Middle East and around the world,” the document states. “We are still judging the impact this decision will have on U.S. facilities and personnel overseas.”

The document instructs Israeli officials to tone down their enthusiasm, Reuters reported.

“While I recognize that you will publicly welcome this news, I ask that you restrain your official response,” the missive suggests.

Diplomats based at several U.S. embassies throughout Europe were also advised of their responsibilities.

“You are in a key position to influence international reaction to this announcement and we are asking you to amplify the reality that Jerusalem is still a final status issue between Israelis and Palestinians and that the parties must resolve the dimensions of Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem during their negotiations,” the document says, further noting, “You know that this is a unique Administration. It makes bold moves. But it is bold moves that are going to be needed if peace efforts are finally going to be successful.”

Reuters obtained a second State Department document that announced a task force created to “track worldwide developments” concerning its historic recognition of Jerusalem.

Palestinian officials declared the Mideast peace process “finished” on Wednesday, and Turkey announced it would host a meeting of Islamic nations next week to give Muslim countries’ leaders an opportunity to coordinate a response.

The Arab League scheduled an emergency meeting on Saturday, and terror group Hamas is calling for a “day of rage” Friday.

“The youth and the Palestinian resistance in the West Bank need to respond with all means available to the U.S. decision that harms our Jerusalem,” Hamas said in a statement. “Jerusalem is a red line and the resistance will not allow any desecration of it.”

The Palestinians want east Jerusalem to eventually serve as the capital of a future independent state.

“There is no way that there can be talks with the Americans. The peace process is finished. They have already pre-empted the outcome,” said Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi. “They cannot take us for granted.”

The U.S. decision “destroys the peace process,” added Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.