A possible U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital this week ignited regional debates over the impact the move would have on peace efforts in the Middle East.
HISTORIC REVERSAL IN U.S. STANCE
U.S. President Donald Trump's adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner said Sunday the president hasn't decided yet whether to make the recognition or to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
"He's still looking at a lot of different facts," Kushner said at an event held by the Brookings Institute, a leading think-tank based in Washington, D.C.
Kushner's remarks came after U.S. media reported last week that Trump could announce a decision on Wednesday to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, reversing the decades-old U.S. stance which upholds the city's status should be decided in negotiations between concerned parties.
The status of Jerusalem is one of the ultimate questions for the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, which was stalled since April 2014 following nine months of U.S.-sponsored talks without major progress.
The status of the city is not settled as the Palestinians want to make East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967, the capital of their future independent state, while Israel declared the integral city of Jerusalem as its capital, a claim not recognized by the international community.
In 1995, former U.S. President Bill Clinton signed a law requiring that the U.S. Embassy in Israel must be relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, unless the president issues a waiver every six months.
Since Clinton, all presidents have signed the waiver, supporting the city's fate should be decided through negotiations between Israel and Palestine.
This week marks a turning point for Trump, who last signed the waiver in June. He vowed during his presidential campaign last year to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel.
However, it is now expected that he may postpone the implementation of his promise.
A TICKING BOMB FOR REGIONAL PEACE
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry on Sunday called for holding urgent meetings of the Arab League (AL) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to discuss the Jerusalem issue.
On the same day, the AL warned against "hazardous consequences" if the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Saeed Abu-Ali, AL assistant secretary general for the occupied Palestinian and Arab lands, said that such U.S. recognition would give Israel the green light to continue its breaches of international resolutions, urging Washington to act as an "impartial broker" of the peace process.
On Twitter, Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said he spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on dangerous consequences of the recognition.
"Such a decision would trigger anger across Arab Muslim worlds, fuel tension & jeopardize peace efforts," he wrote.
Over the past several days, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been having contact with and seeking support from Arab and Western leaders, warning about the potential destructive effects of the likely U.S. move.
The possibility of a U.S. acknowledgment is a "ticking bomb" which will destroy the peace process in the Middle East, analysts said.
Mohammed Daraghmeh, a Ramallah-based writer and political analyst, pointed out that such a decision represented a historic reversal in the U.S. position on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
He said that such a decision was very dangerous, as it "imposes a preemptive stance on one of the most important ultimate questions of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Arab-Israeli conflict."
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has lasted for decades.
Israel is blamed by the international community for the deadlock of the peace process since 2014 due to its settlement expansion policy, which is rejected even by its strongest ally, the United States.
The Palestinians seek to establish an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital in the light of the two-state solution proposed by the United Nations and based on the pre-1967 borders.