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PLO’s Ashrawi: Taking Jerusalem off the table takes peace off the table

Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, PLO Executive Committee Member [File photo]
Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, PLO Executive Committee Member [File photo]

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) Executive Committee, said yesterday that “Jerusalem is beyond price” and “taking Jerusalem off the table only means taking peace off the table.”

Ashrawi was responding to comments made by US President Donald Trump on Tuesday that Israel would 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 said that the Palestinians will “get something very good […] because it’s their turn next”, though he did not specify what this would involve.

Ashrawi condemned Trump’s quid pro quo approach, saying “it takes a great deal of ignorance and arrogance to assume for one minute that the Palestinian people and leadership will accept any compensation for Jerusalem.” She added “[Jerusalem] is the core of Palestinian existence, history and culture and the linchpin of peace” and taking the city off the table is “rewarding lawlessness and punishing the victim,” Wafa reported.

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Other members of the PLO’s Executive Committee have also condemned Trump’s comments. Ahmed Tamimi on Wednesday described Trump’s remarks as “a continuation of US biased policy in favour of Israel and of the illusions of the US administration about the possibility of implementing the ‘Deal of the Century’ without Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state, in any future settlements.”

Tamimi was referring to a US peace plan which is under discussion by the Trump administration. The details of the deal have yet to emerge and have seemingly not been discussed with regional leaders. Although Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia were previously thought to support the deal, more recently they have backed away from it and doubled down on their support for Palestinians.

On Monday however it emerged that Egypt is still pushing for “Deal of the Century” talks between Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Any talks are only expected to be held after a truce is agreed between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, following a flare-up of tensions in recent months.

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 in December, Trump disregarded this international legal framework and was accused of undermining any peace process that might remain.

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