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US will not rescind decision on Jerusalem — official

By Mohammad Ghazal - Dec 11,2017 - Last updated at Dec 11,2017

AMMAN — The US is planning to announce a new peace plan for the Middle East, especially between Israelis and Palestinians, early next year, according to Acting Assistant Secretary for the US Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield.

The US does not plan to reverse its decision recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but continues to be committed to peace making between the two sides, he told reporters during a telephonic press call late on Sunday.

He stressed that the sole way for peace between the two sides was direct talks under the supervision and assistance of the US.

"We hope to move forward with that initiative at a point in the new year…  As to the details of the plan, that will await its rollout.  We are not prepared to announce those details at this time," the US official said.

The initiative, he explained, seeks to help create a process in which the region as a whole, Israelis and Palestinians in specific, can look to a better future, "one not marked by conflict, by isolation, by inclusion, and instead one of work on shared hopes, shared objectives against common problems."

When asked if the US will reverse the decision, he said: "The answer is no.  The president's decision stands.  It is what the president believes was the right step, at the right moment".

However, he stressed that the US is committed to peacemaking between the Palestinians and the Israelis, expressing hope that Arab and world leaders would "understand
what was said".

"The words were very carefully chosen.  We would hope that the rhetoric used by those leaders is rhetoric that is designed to recognise, we with them, are committed to moving forward, to moving forward in the new year, on a peace process, which we hope offers the region a chance to move from the decades, the years of conflict in the past, to a better future, to realise the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians for peace," he said.

Recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was not a resolution of a negotiating process, nor is it a resolution of any issues involving geographic boundaries or specific aspects, specific boundaries with sovereignty in Israel or in Jerusalem, he said.

“This step was recognition of simple reality.  Jerusalem without a specific definition of boundaries or geographic borders is the capital of the state of Israel.  There must be final status negotiations between Israelis and the Palestinians, direct negotiations to resolve all of those specific aspects, all of the questions which have been raised over the course of the last years,” said the US official.

“Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Israel, has been, is now, and will remain.  But the specific mentions of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem have to be resolved through the negotiating process.  The president believes that is the right step to take and this is the right moment to do it,” he added.

When asked about the timing of the decision, he said Trump has been studying this issue since he took office.  He had to make a decision on the waiver of the Jerusalem Embassy Act on December 4th or by December 4th, and he was required to report to the US Congress on this.  

“The president made a decision that this was the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel, the right decision to make, the specific timing was related to the congressional reporting and waiver requirements,” he added.

On whether the decision affects the US status as a fair broker of peace, he said: “…I think it is well understood by all parties that the only path forward to peace in the Middle East, to peace between Israeli and the Palestinians is through direct negotiations between those two parties under the supervision and with the assistance of the United States. That remains the reality.”

 He stressed that the step that was taken by Trump was discussed and presented to key friends and allies to keep parties around the world.  

 

“We had a very frank, a very detailed discussion with them.  In the time before the decision was announced, we have continued those discussions afterwards,” he added.

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