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US says committed to peace, won't chase Palestinians

Image of US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on May 16, 2017 [Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency]
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley (C) in New York, US on 16 May, 2017 [Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency]

The US said Thursday it is committed to advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace, but will not pursue Palestine's leadership which has not done "what is needed" for peace, Anadolu reports.

"The United States remains deeply committed to helping the Israelis and the Palestinians reach a historic peace agreement that brings a better future to both peoples," Nikki Haley, the US's UN ambassador, told the Security Council. "But we will not chase after a Palestinian leadership that lacks what is needed to achieve peace. To get historic results, we need courageous leaders."

The comments follow President Donald Trump's December recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a move widely seen as undercutting long-standing arrangements underpinning the peace process.

The contested city's status was widely-regarded as a final status issue, and Trump's announcement sent the Palestinian leadership into a seething uproar. They continue to reject a US role in mediating talks over the announcement, and have refused to return to negotiations.

Palestinians are seeking East Jerusalem — occupied by Israel — as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

Read More: The future of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict

Trump further threatened the Palestinians by withholding aid funding if they do not return to peace talks.

"Money is on the table and that money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace," he said Thursday at a gathering of world and economic leaders in Davos, Switzerland.

Last week, the State Department announced it was withholding $65 million in aid to Palestine "for further consideration".

In response to Trump's threats in Davos, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said in a statement that the US would have no role in the peace process unless Washington retracted its decision on Jerusalem.

If Jerusalem is off the table, then the US will be off the table as well,

he said.

Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 claiming it as the Jewish state's "undivided and eternal capital" — a move never recognized by the international community.

International law views the West Bank and East Jerusalem as "occupied territories" and considers all settlement construction there illegal.

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