U.S. embassy’s relocation to Jerusalem undermines chances for two-state solution

RAMALLAH, May 14 — The chances for reaching a two-state solution to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have largely faded away one year after the U.S. moved its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Palestinian analysts said.

One year ago, the U.S. officially relocated its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the disputed holy city of Jerusalem, following U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of the city as Israel’s capital in December 2017.

The Palestinians strongly rejected Trump’s decision as well as the embassy move. As response to the decision, the Palestinian leadership halted its political ties with Washington and rejected the U.S. as the peace sponsor.

In recent months, U.S. officials said Washington is preparing to unveil its new peace plan, better known as “Deal of the century,” in June to resolve the decade-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
Palestinian analysts told Xinhua that the U.S. embassy move has already declared the failure of the “deal of the century.”

George Jaqman, chairman of the Ramallah-based Democratic Studies Association, argued that the U.S. embassy relocation has sparked strong rejection from the Palestinians to the “Deal of the Century,” and it is now impossible for the Palestinians to accept any solution that excludes Jerusalem.

“The American peace plan has already failed before it was even presented,” Jaqman said, adding that the Palestinians will certainly never change their stands on the peace plan unless the U.S. changes its position on Jerusalem.

“The U.S. move also complicates the issue, as the U.S. administration is trying to force the Palestinians to concede and give up their rights through blackmailing and threatening,” he added.

Many countries have refused to follow the the United States to move their embassies, a fact that reflects the international rejection of Trump’s position on Jerusalem and the Palestinian cause, said Jaqman.

Besides moving its embassy to Jerusalem, the U.S. merged its consulate in the eastern part of the city with the embassy. Previously, the U.S. consulate in the eastern part of Jerusalem was considered as the U.S. diplomatic representation in Palestine.
Trump has imposed a real shift in the historical American position on the Palestinian cause, said Kahlil Shahin, a Ramallah-based political analyst, adding that the U.S. move has encouraged Israel’s aggression towards the Palestinians.

Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has undermined the chances of establishing an independent Palestinian state, said Shahin.
He noted that the Palestinians are convinced that the door to peace settlement with Israel is closed, especially when Israel is mulling declaring its sovereignty over its settlements in the West Bank, which will eliminate any chances for the two-state solution.

In response to Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has severed its political ties with the U.S., and demanded for a multilateral international mechanism to sponsor the peace process, which had been stalled since 2014.

Trump’s decision to stop the U.S. aid to the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) and closing the offices of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) have also outraged the Palestinians.
Ghassan al-Khatib, a political science professor at Birzeit University in the West Bank, said the U.S. policies against the Palestinians, especially on Jerusalem, have further complicated the efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

“It became clear that there was no immediate horizon for a serious move to push forward the peace process in light of the Palestinian rejection of the U.S. peace plan, because the U.S. is attempting to impose on the Palestinians a ‘fait accompli’,” said al-Khatib.
Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the PLO Executive Committee, said earlier that using the expression of a “deal” instead of a “treaty” reflects the U.S. intention to impose its policies on the Palestinians instead of seeking an agreement through negotiations.
“Searching for solutions beyond the framework of international law and the UN resolutions … is nothing more than chasing the mirage and living in illusions,” said Erekat. – XINHUA