Home / World / Trump calls Jerusalem to a plan to move towards peace, but puts the Middle East on the edge

Trump calls Jerusalem to a plan to move towards peace, but puts the Middle East on the edge



JERUSALEM – Palestinians burned photographs of President Trump in Gaza and the walls of the Old City were illuminated with American and Israeli flags on Wednesday, while Trump kept his campaign promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. [19659002] In a long-awaited speech by the White House, Mr. Trump argued that it was "right" to recognize the reality that Jerusalem is the seat of the government of Israel. Decades of avoiding that fact, he said, has done little to resolve the protracted dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.

"It would be foolish to assume that repeating the same formula would now produce a different or better result," he said. Trump declared. Recognizing that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, he said, is "a long-awaited step to advance the peace process."

Mr. Trump said the United States still wanted a negotiated peace agreement and that it would "support a two-state solution if both sides agreed to it" and that it did not seek to dictate the limits of Israeli sovereignty in the fiercely contested Holy City.

"Of course, there will be disagreement and disagreement regarding this announcement," said the president. He called for "calm, moderation and that the voices of tolerance prevail over the suppliers of hate".

Mr. Trump's recognition of Jerusalem isolates the United States from one of the most delicate diplomatic issues in the world. It sparked a storm of criticism from Arab and European leaders, including some of the closest allies in the United States.

Many said that Trump's maneuver was destabilizing, that it ran the risk of unleashing violence and further hamper the achievement of peace. He also questioned his ability to maintain the long-standing role of the United States as mediator of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mr. Trump's break with politics and international consensus included the implementation of a plan to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Although that will not happen immediately, the Palestinians saw it as a profound affront.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a veteran of the peace process, bitterly said that the United States had effectively discarded it. Saeb Erekat, the main Palestinian negotiator, called for the abandonment of a two-state solution altogether.

Among the Israelis, however, Mr. Trump's announcement received praise, not only from the right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but also from the liberal opposition leaders "The Jewish people and the Jewish state will be eternally grateful" , said Netanyahu in a video, describing Mr. Trump's decision as "courageous and just" and "an important step towards peace."

Yair Lapid, the leader of Yesh Atid, a center-left opposition party, said: "Policies should not be dictated by threats and intimidation, if violence is the only argument against moving the embassy to Jerusalem. , then only prove that it is the right thing to do ".

Naftali Bennett, the education minister and leader of the right-wing Jewish Home party, said that the American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel "shows that Israel's strategic patience has paid off."

"We have been told again and again that if we want more acceptance, we have to cut off parts of Israel and deliver them to our enemies." he said. "What we are learning is the opposite: the world respects strong countries that believe in themselves and despise countries willing to leave their homeland."

Israeli border police patrolled the alleys of the Old City of Jerusalem on Wednesday. [19659015] Credit Atef Safadi / European Pressphoto Agency

However, the Israelis were also preparing for violence, as some Palestinian leaders urged a third intifada or armed uprising.

Fatah, Hamas and other Palestinian factions called for a general strike on Thursday, urging residents of the West Bank and Gaza to join marches in all cities, and officials said Palestinian schools would be closed. Hamas, an Islamic militant group, said Mr Trump's decision would "open the gates of hell" and that Islamic Jihad called it a "declaration of war".

Late on Wednesday night, there were only scattered and unconfirmed reports of gunfire and clashes with security forces in several cities in the West Bank.

But the United States Consulate General in Jerusalem barred US government employees and their families from visiting the Old City of Jerusalem and the West Bank, including Bethlehem, already decorated for Christmas. Government workers were only allowed to make essential trips. American citizens were advised to avoid crowds.

In Jordan, the United States Embassy said it had suspended routine public services, limited the public movements of employees and their families and ordered them not to send their children to school on Thursday. [19659002] But even when Arab and Muslim leaders in the Middle East condemned Mr. Trump's announcement, doubts arose about the resistance of the anger. The Palestinian issue, long a binding force in Arab politics, has been losing importance in recent years, eclipsed by other conflicts. Even so, the US decision risked a backlash with unpredictable consequences.

Palestinians across the political spectrum said that Trump's decision was so partial to Israel that it had irrevocably damaged his administration's ability to be seen as a fair intermediary.

Analysts He noted that Mr. Trump had not said anything about the Palestinian aspirations to make East Jerusalem the capital of a state side by side with Israel.

Mr. Trump made no distinction between the western parts of the city and East Jerusalem. The landmarks of the Old City he invoked: the sacred Wailing Wall for the Jews, the stations of the sacred cross for Christians and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, beloved by the Muslims, are east of the 1967 line, in what the rest of the world still considers occupied territory, said Nathan Thrall, an expert on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the International Crisis Group.

Mr. Trump's formulation that the United States would "endorse a two-state solution if both parties agreed to it" was tantamount to a reversal of US policy by strongly supporting a two-state solution, said Daniel Kurtzer, a Princeton professor and former ambassador. in Israel during the presidency of George W. Bush.

"Abbas does not have much to offer if he wants to stay in the game with the United States," Kurtzer said.

Mr. Trump's decision was driven by a campaign promise. He appealed to evangelicals and fervently pro-Israel Jewish Americans when he ran for president in 2016 promising to move the embassy. The advisers said he was determined to keep his word.

But the president still plans to sign a national security exemption to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv for six additional months, even as the relocation plan moves forward.

White House officials argued that Mr. Trump's decision would bolster his credibility as a peacemaker by demonstrating that he can be trusted to fulfill his promises. They also argued that by bringing the contentious issue of Jerusalem out of the table, Mr. Trump had eliminated a recurring source of ambiguity.

Those arguments were rejected by Mr. Abbas, who said in a televised speech on Wednesday night that Mr. Trump's actions "constitute a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts" and amount to a "withdrawal" of the paper of the United States.

Protesters burn Israeli and American flags in Gaza City on Wednesday. Credit Mohammed Salem / Reuters [19659017] Decisions on the embassy and recognition of Jerusalem "also reward Israel for denying agreements and challenging international resolutions, and encouraging Israel to follow the policy of occupation, settlement, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, "said Mr. Abbas, speaking in Arabic which was translated by Wafa, the Palestinian news agency.

However, the Palestinians, weak and divided, did not seem to have many good options or any clear and prompt response.

Some Rai created the idea of ​​cutting off security cooperation with Israel, but that cooperation also helps to preserve the authority of Mr. Abbas. And breaking down more forcefully with the United States could jeopardize the enormous amounts of aid that the Palestinian Authority receives from Washington.

Mr. Abbas said he would focus on reconciliation efforts with Hamas to face the new challenge. But the US statement could actually damage those efforts.

"This development will push Hamas to be more intransigent," said Ghassan Khatib, a Palestinian political scientist at Birzeit University in the West Bank. "Abbas will not change his political line, so the gap will grow."

Diana Buttu, a Palestinian activist lawyer and former adviser to Mr. Abbas, said that the peace process had failed her. "It has to change tactics," he said, pointing to international measures such as the boycott-divestment-sanctions campaign and bringing charges against Israelis in the International Criminal Court.

"Doing nothing is no longer an option," he said.

Mr. Thrall, the analyst, said the two-state strategy has been losing credibility among Palestinians for a while, especially among young people. And Mr. Trump's actions, he said, would push more Palestinians toward what he called "a struggle for rights-based equality" and "a South African model of a state for the Palestinians."

"Nothing better symbolizes the Palestinians" the idiocy of the strategy their leaders have been pursuing and the total ineffectiveness of what just happened in the White House today, "he said.

Israel's position in the The world generally suffers when there are no prospects for peace negotiations, but the Israelis, both on the right and on the left, rejected the idea that Mr. Trump's statement was a death sentence.

The right described it as "It does not matter what Trump says," said Efraim Inbar, president of the Institute of Strategic Studies in Jerusalem, a group of conservative experts. "It matters if the Palestinians are willing to reach an agreement on this issue. or not. "

Still, Netanyahu could face a new set of political problems from Trump's announcement, including increased pressure from key allies to put pressure on Israel on the Palestinians.

an impulse to retrace the borders of Jerusalem to expel a large part of its Arab population and add tens of thousands of residents to Israeli settlements.

"The problem you will have is, will you now be able to control the appetites of those in your coalition who want to do even more?" Said Mr. Kurtzer.

Others warned that Israel might have to pay a price later if Mr. Trump – assuming it is "The next time Trump wants something from Israel," said Nachman Shai, a Labor Party member of the Knesset, "I I'd like to see who will say no. "

Follow David M. Halbfi nger on Twitter: @halbfinger

David M. Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner reported from Jerusalem and Mark Landler from Washington. Reports were provided by Irit Pazner Garshowitz of Jerusalem, Ibrahim El-Mughraby of Gaza City and Rami Nazzal of Ramallah, West Bank.

A version of this article appears printed in on page A 1 of the New York edition with the headline: The president calls Jerusalem Shift & # 39; The right thing & # 39; . Reprints of orders | Today's paper | Subscribe


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