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Thursday, 3 August, 2000, 13:58 GMT 14:58 UK
Anger at US 'Jerusalem embassy plan'
Israeli army in Jerusalem
Barak - Jerusalem is Israel's 'eternal and undivided capital'
The United States is planning to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by 20 January, the day President Bill Clinton leaves office, according to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

The prime minister told Israeli television that he understood the US "will rent offices by 20 January, and they will build an embassy".

Mr Barak's comments have met with a chorus of disapproval from Middle Eastern officials.

The Western or Wailing Wall, and in the background the Dome of the Rock
The Western or Wailing Wall, and in the background the Dome of the Rock
In Washington, the US State Department said the final decision had not been made on such a move.

Mr Clinton said on Friday that the location of the US embassy was being reviewed and a decision would be made by the end of the year.

The issue of the location of the US embassy is of such importance because the move would imply official recognition of Israeli control of Jerusalem.

Arab reaction

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has warned that the relocation of the US Embassy would be a "grave" mistake.

"We think Jerusalem should be negotiated in accordance with international resolutions," Mr Erekat said.

"These are the terms of reference and we hope the United States will refrain from such unilateral acts for the sake of maintaining the peace process."

Jerusalem is sacred to Christian, Muslims and Jews
Jerusalem is sacred to Christian, Muslims and Jews
The Egyptian foreign minister also criticised President Clinton's declared support for moving the US embassy to Jerusalem.

"If such a measure were taken before a peace accord is reached it would be a unilateral measure that would seriously damage the peace process," Amr Moussa said.

Jordan agreed - such a move "will not serve the efforts being made to solve such a complicated question as Jerusalem," said Information Minister Taleb Rifai.

Peace process

The Israeli prime minister is due in Cairo on Thursday for talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on the peace process.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami is to despatch envoys to all corners of the Arab and Islamic world in the coming days for talks on the fate of Jerusalem, Iranian radio reported on Wednesday.

Mr Khatami is taking the initiative as acting chairman of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the 56-nation pan-Islamic body whose rotating presidency is currently held by Tehran.

The report said Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi had already held talks on the Jerusalem question on Tuesday with his counterparts from Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and Syria.

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See also:

20 Jul 00 | Mideast Peace Process
Jerusalem: Eternal, intractable
01 Aug 00 | Media reports
Israeli press appraises surprise victor
01 Aug 00 | Europe
Vatican renews Jerusalem plea
02 Aug 00 | Media reports
Katsav seeks domestic peace
07 Jul 00 | Mideast Peace Process
Barak: Gung-ho dove
31 Jul 00 | Middle East
Barak survives no-confidence vote
22 Jun 00 | Middle East
Israel's paralysing democracy
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