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Russia: moving US embassy to Jerusalem significant challenge for regional security

Jan. 20, 2017 6:08 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 22, 2017 6:56 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on Thursday that US plans to relocate its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would “create a significant challenge for security in the region," according to Russian news agency Sputnik.

Sputnik reported that Bogdanov’s statement came following an incident earlier Thursday in which Israeli Ambassador to Russia Gary Koren told Sputnik that Israel would welcome the potential US decision, adding that “Moscow had also grounds for such a move.”

Commenting on Koren’s statements, Bogdanov said that "probably he has joked in such a manner.”

Meanwhile on Wednesday, during a press conference with his Polish counterpart President Andrzej Duda in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas called upon US President-Elect Donald Trump to “work on achieving peace in the region and expressed willingness to work with him to achieve this goal.”

Abbas also noted that “this year might be the final chance to launch talks and work on conducting the two-state solution,” and called upon all countries which haven’t recognized the Palestinian state, “to follow the lead of 138 other countries that have already recognized Palestinian state.”

The Israeli government has also openly expressed its anticipation for a Trump presidency when right-wing politicians believe they will more easily advance plans to expand Israeli settlements and consolidate Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank.

The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the "Judaization" of East Jerusalem through settlement construction and mass demolitions of Palestinian homes.

While members of the international community have rested the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the discontinuation of illegal Israeli settlements and the establishment of a two-state solution, Israeli leaders have instead shifted further to the right as many Knesset members have called for an escalation of settlement building in the occupied West Bank, and with some having advocated for its complete annexation.

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