US President Donald Trump said yesterday that Israel will pay a “high price” in any peace talks in return for the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem in May.
Speaking at a rally in the US state of West Virginia, Trump called the decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem “very big”. He said that in return, Palestinians will “get something very good […] because it’s their turn next.” The President did not put forward any concrete suggestions as to what this “something very good” might entail for the Palestinians.
President Trump also remarked that the US had “taken Jerusalem off the table.” He added “if there’s ever going to be peace with the Palestinians, then this was a good thing to have done […] In past negotiations, they never got past Jerusalem becoming the capital. So I said ‘let’s take it off the table’,” the Times of Israel reported.
In response to Trump’s comments, US National Security Adviser John Bolton stressed that there had been no change in US policy vis-a-vis Israel. The US has long been a principal ally of Israel and continues to donate huge sums of military aid to the State.
Currently visiting Israel to discuss regional issues with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Bolton added that the Jerusalem embassy move is “not an issue of quid pro quo”, Arutz Sheva reported.
Jerusalem, which is claimed by both Israel and Palestine as their capital, was determined a “final status” issue in the Oslo Accords of the early 1990s, the last round of peace talks to yield any results. Under UN Resolution 181, often known as the Partition Plan of 1947, Jerusalem was declared a corpus separatum that was to be demilitarised, neutral and ruled by a UN administration. In moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and unilaterally recognising the city as Israel’s capital, Trump disregarded this international legal framework and was accused of undermining any peace process that might remain.
Trump is no stranger to making controversial remarks on the topic of Israel-Palestine. On Monday it emerged that during a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah in June, Trump suggested that if a one-state policy were pursued the prime minister of Israel “in a few years will be called Mohammed.” It is thought Trump was referring to the demographic balance of Israel, which were the current state to be combined with the occupied Palestinian territories as a “state of all its citizens” would no longer yield a Jewish majority.
The president has been pushing his own peace initiative dubbed the “deal of the century”. It is not yet clear what the details of the deal will involve, but it is thought that any proposed deal will be advantageous to Israel. Last week, the Jordanian King said that “we have never seen or read about something called the ‘deal of the century’.” Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi, however, said in July that any solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “would not be at the expense of the Israeli public’s ‘security and stability’.”