Kiss of death to the two-state solution, says Palestine

Envoy to Britain calls Trump’s decision a ‘declaration of war’; Hamas says it will open ‘gates of hell’

Updated - December 01, 2021 06:36 am IST

Published - December 06, 2017 11:16 pm IST - Washington

Unilateral move: Israeli flags fly near the Dome of the Rock in the Al­Aqsa mosque compound.

Unilateral move: Israeli flags fly near the Dome of the Rock in the Al­Aqsa mosque compound.

Despite assurances from U.S. President Donald Trump and senior administration officials that a decision on recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the U.S. embassy there would not impinge on the peace process, Palestinians were not likely to be convinced.

The Palestinians have said Mr. Trump’s move would mean the “kiss of death” to the two-state solution, envisaging a Palestinian state in territory — the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem — that Israel took in the 1967 war.

“He is declaring war in the Middle East, he is declaring war against 1.5 billion Muslims (and) hundreds of millions of Christians that are not going to accept the holy shrines to be totally under the hegemony of Israel,” Manuel Hassassian, the chief Palestinian representative to Britain, told BBC radio.

Hamas said the decision would “open the gates of hell” on U.S. interests in the region. “This decision will open the gates of hell on U.S. interests in the region,” Ismail Radwan, an official with the Palestinian Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, told journalists after Mr. Trump’s announcement.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Mr. Trump’s decision as “historic” and “courageous”. Mr. Netanyahu also pledged no change to the status quo at Jerusalem’s highly sensitive holy sites in the city sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

A delegation led by President Mahmoud Abbas that had met Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and envoy for the peace process Jared Kushner last Saturday had warned that the U.S. would forfeit its status as an “honest broker” if it undermined the Palestinian claims on parts of the city unilaterally. Mr. Abbas told Mr. Trump that he would “not accept” the change in U.S. position and warned that the President was “playing into the hands of extremism”, according to a statement by Nabil Shaath, an adviser to the Palestinian President. Mr. Trump had called Mr. Abbas on Tuesday.

Mr. Trump’s announcement came in for condemnation from U.S.’s allies in the region and beyond. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey and European allies like Germany, France and Britain have already said the move would be counterproductive and spark unrest.

However, Mr. Kushner has found a partner in Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in his overtures. According to a New York Times report earlier this week, the Crown Prince is pressuring Mr. Abbas to accept a deal that involves Palestinians giving up all claims on East Jerusalem and settling for limited sovereignty over a truncated geographical area, among other things.

Pleasing the voter-base

Mr. Trump’s decision on shifting the embassy has been in the making for a while, and he had made this promise during the 2016 campaign. A more pro-Israel move is appealing to Mr. Trump’s evangelical and conservative supporters.

As President, Mr. Trump appointed an orthodox Jew and settlement supporter David Friedman as the U.S. Ambassador to Israel and entrusted son-in-law Mr. Kushner, also an orthodox Jew, to push for a new momentum in the peace process.

“There will of course be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement — but we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements we will arrive at a place of greater understanding and cooperation,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday.

( Inputs from AFP )

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