With Tuesday’s mid-term elections behind us, many believe the Trump administration is turning its attention to unveiling a proposal for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
In fact, The Times of Israel reported in late October, “If U.S. President Donald Trump does not present his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan next month, France’s President Emmanuel Macron will issue a proposal of his own.”
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas seems to be indicating that he isn’t listening.
For example, Reuters reported this week that Macron will host 60 world leaders in Paris on November 11. The event is Macron’s final ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and the inauguration of the Paris Peace Forum, an initiative to improve international cooperation and governance. U.S. President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plan to attend. Abbas is sending his premier Rami Hamdallah.
Reuters interpreted Abbas’ absence as intended to put an end to “talk that the Peace Forum could bring the first substantive meeting between Israeli and Palestinian leaders since 2015.”
Abbas Rejects U.S. as Peace Negotiator
Abbas has snubbed peace talks with the U.S. ever since President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017. Since then, the Trump administration has taken further steps that angered Abbas.
In May, President Trump moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
- In late August, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced that the U.S. would leave the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) because it does little to help the Palestinian people and swells the number of people defined as refugees.
- On September 8, National Security Adviser John Bolton cited the refusal of Palestinian leaders to enter into peace talks with Israel as the reason the administration ordered the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington closed.
- On October 18, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. would merge the U.S.’s Jerusalem-based embassy and consulate to facilitate efficiency and effectiveness.
Merger Called 'Aggression and Declared War'
The U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem opened in 1844 and has been the U.S.’s main venue for direct communication with Palestinian leadership. In placing it under the embassy as a new Palestinian Affairs Unit, many believe the U.S. is signaling that the administration’s peace proposal takes a two-state solution off the table.
Pompeo denies the allegation. “As the president proclaimed in December of last year, the United States continues to take no position on final status issues, including boundaries or borders,” he said.
“The specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the parties,” Pompeo continued, adding that the merger “doesn’t preclude any negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians over their respective borders in a future two-state solution.”
Still, the Egyptian MENA news agency said the Arab League of States condemned the merger as “aggression and declared war” against the Palestinian people.
PA negotiator Saeb Erekat also attacked the merger, saying it dismantled the two-state solution. Reuters reported, “Erekat denounced the decision to eliminate the consulate” as the latest evidence that the Trump administration is working with Israel to “impose a ‘Greater Israel’ rather than a two-state solution.”
‘Great Day for Israel’
Knesset member Michael Oren tweeted, “A great day for Israel, Jerusalem and the United States. Pompeo’s announcement closing the U.S. consulate and transferring its responsibilities to the embassy ends the last vestige of American support for the city's division.” Oren, who serves as deputy minister of diplomacy in the Prime Minister's Office, added: “Israel is deeply grateful."
Mideast analyst Pinchas Inbari agreed that the merger would kill the idea of two capitals in Jerusalem. He further predicted that the Arab world will accept the idea’s demise, telling Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN): “While the Palestinians are shouting, no one is listening. If you watch around, (there is) no Saudi reaction, no Egyptian reaction, very mild Jordanian reaction. The only party that is reacting is Ramallah, not even the east Jerusalemites. They don't even care.”
CBN also reported that the merger “comes as Australian officials debate a proposal to follow Trump’s lead in moving their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”
“We’re committed to a two-state solution,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told CBN.
Pray with Us
Please join us at Jewish Voice as we pray for peace in Jerusalem and through Israel. We ask that:
God’s wisdom will infuse the peace plans to be presented in the weeks to come
- Hearts and minds will be open to biblical solutions
- God will protect Jewish people worldwide as this peace process is likely to incite increased anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment.