Has Trump Undone Years Of Work Towards Middle East Peace?

President Donald Trump botched recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has left the US Middle East policy bruised and battered.

Although Trump says he wants nothing more than a lasting peace agreement in the Middle East, his action has undermined American influence in the region and left many Muslim nations distrusting his words.

For 500 years, until the First World War, Jerusalem was part of the Ottoman Empire, but in the decades leading up to the war, the city was home to more Jews than any other religious group.

The city is a sacred place for Christians, Jews and Muslims.

But instead of being a place to of sharing and compromise, Jerusalem has nurtured hatred for centuries.

US embassy to move

And after successive US presidents had slowly eased confrontation between Israel and other Middle Eastern states, Trump has set back their work by decades.

He announced moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city in a tacit recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel even though much of the city was annexed. Under international law, the annexation is unrecognised by the United Nations and few countries officially support the Israeli stance.

Trump appeared to try to regain support in Palestine by insisting that he was not taking a position on “final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders.”

The response was rioting in the streets, barricades of burning tyres and Israeli security forces firing on protestors with rubber bullets.

Unhelpful decision

The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said the US is no longer qualified to sponsor the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians following Trump’s announcement.

“There will of course be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement but we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a place of greater understanding and cooperation,” Trump said.

Even the United Nations met to discuss Trump’s comments. Afterwards, Britain, France, Germany, Sweden and Italy declared a joint statement arguing the President’s decision, which includes plans to move the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, was “unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace.”

“We stand ready to contribute to all credible efforts to restart the peace process, based on internationally agreed parameters, leading to a two-state solution,” they said. “We encourage the US Administration to now bring forward detailed proposals for an Israel-Palestinian settlement.”