Donald Trump's Jerusalem move ends US role in peace process, Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi says

Donald Trump's Jerusalem move ends US role in peace process, Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi says

Donald Trump's Jerusalem move ends US role in peace process, Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi says

Updated 12 December 2017, 22:35 AEDT

US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital means the US can no longer be trusted to broker peace talks, senior Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi says.

Senior Palestinian political leader Hanan Ashrawi says US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital means the US can no longer be trusted to broker peace talks.

Key points:

  • Plans to ask for recognition of Palestine as a full member of the United Nations
  • And to ask for the Palestine state to be recognised with Jerusalem as its capital
  • Dr Ashwari says peace process 'subverted by a strategic alliance between the US and Israel'

Dr Ashrawi, a Sydney Peace Prize winner and a member of the executive of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), accused the US of "totally disqualifying" itself from the peace process in the wake of the move, and said Palestinians would now walk away from the peace process.

"We will not engage in any peace process where the Americans are in control," she told The World Today.

"We will take Israel to the International Criminal Court, because we do need to protect ourselves, we do need accountability for Israel.

"The American Congress and successive American administrations have been blackmailing the Palestinians, that if you go there you will be punished. So what? There's nothing left to punish us with."

Protests erupted in the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and in neighbouring Arab nations after Mr Trump last week reversed decades of US policy by recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, despite warnings from around the world the gesture would further inflame Middle East tensions.

The status of Jerusalem — home to sites holy for the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions — has been one of the thorniest issues in long-running peace efforts.

Israel considers the city its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all embassies based there.

Palestinians want the capital of an independent Palestinian state to be in the city's eastern sector, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed in a move never recognised internationally.

The US President said his move reflected the reality of Jerusalem as the centre of Jewish faith and the fact the city is the seat of the Israeli Government.

But Dr Ashrawi said the Palestinians would not be relinquishing their claims to have the capital of a future Palestinian state in the city's eastern sector.

"We have to ask for full recognition of Palestine as a full member of the United Nations and ask the states that talk about the two-state solution to recognise the Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," she said.

"It's up to the international community to bring Israel not only to compliance but to define the boundaries of Israel.

"Israel is one country that has no borders because it sort of expands gradually and draws its borders as it goes along, and it's at the expense of Palestinians, at the expense of our land."

Will this pressure Palestinians into negotiations?

Sharren Haskel, an Israeli member of the Likud Party, said so far the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians had failed, and Mr Trump's decision would hopefully pressure the Palestinians to come to the negotiating table.

"And negotiate a peace deal or some kind of arrangement that we will be able to live and coexist side by side," she said.

Ms Haskel said leaders from countries like the Czech Republic and the Philippines have said they would consider following in the US's footsteps.

"We're hoping that more leaders will understand that this is something that had to happen, and we hope that they will follow the lead," she said.

However France, Britain, Turkey, Russia and China have all called Mr Trump's decision a bad move.

But Ms Haskel said Israel had long faced opposition from the international community.

"Even in the foundation of Israel there were threats of war that is going to erupt. If we would have listened to every kind of threat like that, Israel wouldn't have existed," she said.

"And so we take the reality in a certain proportion as well. We live here, we understand the reality — trust us, we know how to manage the issues as well."

Trump 'stirring up a hornet's nest'

Mr Trump was not the first US president in history to announce they would make Jerusalem the capital of Israel, but he was the first president to follow through — delivering on a 2016 promise to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"Every American president, every American candidate would promise the world, particularly to the pro-Zionist lobby," Dr Ashrawi said.

But she said in past instances, once the president in question entered office they would quickly come, "face to face with reality".

"And out of a position of responsibility and in the service of American national interest and security, they wouldn't follow through on these exaggerated campaign promises," she said.

"This guy seems to think that a campaign promise is something he has to fulfil at the expense of the American interests and standing and security.

"And of course at the expense of stability and legality and Palestinian rights. This is totally irresponsible."

Dr Ashrawi said the peace process had been "subverted" by what she called a strategic alliance between the United States and Israel, and their blind support of Israel.

"So far, he [Donald Trump] has been talking about a peace initiative, the ultimate deal, and we've seen nothing expect collusion with Israel and giving Israel now a blank check to move ahead and build more settlements," she said.

Dr Ashrawi said Palestinians were feeling angry and disappointed.

"There are people who feel betrayed as well. And this is something that will continue and build up," she said.

"I can sense the mood, Palestinians feel that they have been abandoned by the international community — but particularly betrayed by the US.

"And it is not just in Palestine, it is moving beyond. You should see what's happening in Jordon, in Lebanon and Egypt and different places, even in different Asian countries.

"He [Donald Trump] is stirring up a hornet's nest. He is really creating a situation of tremendous instability and anger and I think it is building up.

"They should be very careful when they attack something that is so significant, so deeply felt."