Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan has warned US President Donald Trump not to add “more oil on the fire” by moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Hamdan’s comments came in response to promises made by Trump and his administration to make the move – a decision that would effectively recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The eastern sector of Jerusalem was occupied in 1967 in an act that was not recognised by any other country in the world.
Trump’s press secretary said last week that the new administration was in “the beginning stages” of discussing a possible relocation.
“[Trump] has to make a choice whether he wants to create peace in the region or he wants to add more oil on the fire,” Hamdan said in an interview with Al Jazeera’s UpFront.
“Palestinians will not accept to abandon Jerusalem, they will not accept to abandon their rights.”
Palestinians hope to make East Jerusalem the capital of their future state, and have had the broad support of the international community for that aspiration.
On Tuesday, Jean-Marc Ayrault, French foreign minister, reiterated his country’s stance of pursuing a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians, with East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.
Separately, in Iraq, popular Shia Muslim leader Muqtada al-Sadr denounced the potential relocation as a “declaration of war on Islam”.
Palestinian political party Fatah has also issued warnings to Trump against it.
While previous US presidents have maintained that the status of Jerusalem would be left to “final status negotiations” between the Israelis and the Palestinians, they have not formally and unilaterally accepted Israel’s declaration that its capital should be an undivided Jerusalem.
Rights groups say that, despite international opposition, Israel – and in particular, the current government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – has worked to actively change the demographics of occupied East Jerusalem.
Last month, the UN Security Council passed a resolution demanding Israel halt settlement activity, calling it a “flagrant violation of international law”.
Asked whether the embassy moving to Jerusalem would lead to violence, Hamdan told Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan: “If there was changes or the United States administration try to make a change in the status of Jerusalem, of course, that will mean an action from the Palestinian side and no one can control that.”
Hamdan added that he personally does not “accept the idea of having violence from the Palestinian side”.
These remarks conform with previous statements made by Palestinian groups, including Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, linking attacks by Palestinians – usually acting on their own – against Israeli soldiers and illegal settlers as resulting from “provocations”.
“Everyone expected this to happen. Jerusalem is boiling. Yesterday, the Israeli forces demolished the houses of the Palestinians who attacked Israelis, but they never punish Israeli attackers,” Ghazi Hamad, a Hamas official, told Al Jazeera after a November 2014 attack on a synagogue.
The full UpFront interview with Osama Hamdan will air on Friday, January 27 at 19:30GMT. The show will be available at this link – www.aljazeera.com/upfront – from the same time.