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Palestinian Authority recalls its envoy to the United States

Palestinian Authority recalls its envoy to the United States
Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian Authority's top envoy to the U.S., was ordered home in an escalation of tension with the Trump administration. (Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

In an escalation of tension with the Trump administration, the Palestinian Authority has temporarily recalled its envoy to Washington.

The move Sunday came three weeks after President Trump angered Palestinians by declaring that the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would move its embassy there from Tel Aviv.

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The representative, Husam Zomlot, was ordered home "to review the United Nations' General Assembly decision to reject" Trump's declaration, the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recalled Zomlot to discuss future steps, according to the foreign minister, Riyad Maliki, who said the diplomat was expected to return to Washington to resume his duties after the holidays.

Trump has said that a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians — which he called "the ultimate deal" — is a top foreign policy priority.

But his declaration has alienated Palestinians, whose leaders have never accepted Israeli rule over all of Jerusalem and insist that East Jerusalem will be the capital of any future Palestinian state.

After the announcement, Abbas said he would not meet with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who was scheduled to visit the region but canceled his trip.

The United States vetoed a resolution supported by the 14 other U.N. Security Council members that would have required Trump to rescind his declaration.

Also on Sunday, the Palestinian Authority recalled its representative in Pakistan, Walid Abu Ali, after he was photographed at a Pakistani "rally in solidarity with Jerusalem" standing beside Hafiz Saeed, a terrorist wanted by both the United States and India for his involvement in 2006 and 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

India protested the envoy's appearance with Saeed. Abu Ali appears to have been dismissed from his diplomatic post.

"The Palestinian Authority supports India's war on terrorism," the government in Ramallah, West Bank, said in a statement.

Tarnopolsky is a special correspondent.

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