Washington: US President Donald Trump has called his decision this week to break with decades of precedent and declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel a move made “in the best interest of peace between Israel and Palestine”. Israel aside, few others saw it that way.

Trump tried to temper his decision by reaffirming US support for a “two-state solution” and saying he wasn’t pre-empting any final decision about Israel’s borders or sovereignty within Jerusalem.

That’s important to Palestinians, because they view the eastern part of the city as their future capital, but it’s also something they would have already expected in any peace deal, so Trump’s statement rang hollow.

The full impact of Trump’s decision won’t really be known until his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, unveils a plan he has been working on with a small team aimed at forging peace in the Middle East. White House officials conceded that the effort isn’t ready yet and that there will be a cooling-off period following Wednesday’s announcement before the administration can move forward.

“This step is pre-judging, dictating, closing doors for negotiations and I think President Trump tonight disqualified the United States of America to play any role in any peace process,” Saeb Erekat, the main Palestinian peace negotiator, said after Trump’s speech.

“We were very close to receiving an offer for peace from the Americans,” Majdi Khaldi, an adviser to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas said. “We want to be positive and to be partners to the US, and to all parties that want to make peace, but this act is making it very difficult to continue with business as usual. Really, we want to make a historic peace with the Israelis, but that is not the way.”

 

Read the full article from Bloomberg, New York Times, Washington Post at The Age.

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