WORLD For Palestinians, US Embassy move a show of pro-Israel bias

WORLD

For Palestinians, US Embassy move a show of pro-Israel bias

AP

02:04, May 14, 2018

(Photo: AP)

Monday’s opening of the US Embassy in contested Jerusalem, cheered by Israelis as a historic validation, is seen by Palestinians as an in-your-face affirmation of pro-Israel bias by President Donald Trump and a new blow to dreams of statehood.

The festive inauguration helps harden Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ rejection of Washington as a future mediator in the conflict with Israel, likely ushering in a prolonged period of diplomatic vacuum in which other powers are unwilling or unable to step up as brokers.

Such paralysis and loss of hope have been major drivers of Palestinian unrest.

FROM TEL AVIV TO JERUSALEM

Tel Aviv is the customary base for foreign embassies in Israel, with the US and other countries having avoided Jerusalem because of its contested status. Over the years, a few countries set up embassies in Jerusalem and then left it again. From 2006 until this week, the city didn’t host a single foreign embassy.

Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Mideast war. It annexed the eastern sector to its previously declared capital in the western part of the city, a move not recognized at the time by the US and most other nations.

The fate of the city has been a central issue in years of intermittent US-brokered negotiations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, taking a harder line than two predecessors, has said he won’t give up any part of Jerusalem, home to 883,000 people, 38 percent of them Palestinians. Abbas wants east Jerusalem to be the capital of a Palestinian state that would include the other war-won territories.

In December, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying he was simply acknowledging reality, while omitting any mention of Palestinian claims to the city. Trump said at the time he is not taking a position on the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty that are to be determined in negotiations. But just a month later Trump told Netanyahu he had taken Jerusalem “off the table” and that “we don’t have to talk about it anymore.”

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