News Analysis: Trump's decision, veto on Jerusalem isolates Washington, harms Mideast peace: experts

Source: Xinhua| 2017-12-20 20:07:24|Editor: Zhou Xin
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by Mahmoud Fouly

CAIRO, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- The recent U.S. veto of a UN Security Council resolution rejecting President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital is expected to isolate Washington and to harm the Middle East peace process, said Egyptian political experts.

On Monday, the United States vetoed the UN draft resolution that aims to protect the status of the disputed holy city of Jerusalem and halt Trump's recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem despite Arab, Islamic and international warnings.

Although vetoed and blocked by the United States, the draft resolution was backed by all 14 other members of the UN Security Council.

"By this move, the United States withdraws itself from the peace process and puts itself in an isolated position," said Abdel-Raouf al-Reedy, former Egyptian Ambassador to the United States and head of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs.

Trump's controversial decision on Jerusalem, made on Dec. 6, was met by regional and international rejection, condemnation and warning of its serious repercussions on peace, security and stability in the Middle East region as well as the chances for a settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

"The move obstructs and undermines the peace process and negatively affects the prospects for settlement achievement, because the United States is an important party in the Middle East peace process and the U.S. position is supposed to be moderate, objective and unbiased," Reedy told Xinhua.

The decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict emerged since the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and the Western-backed creation of Israel in 1948.

The Palestinians seek to establish an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital in the light of the UN-proposed two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders.

"This U.S. position on Jerusalem actually contradicts the principles of the international law and the UN charter, because East Jerusalem, although its issue is kept for the final settlement stage, is a Palestinian occupied land since 1967," the Egyptian ex-ambassador to Washington told Xinhua.

The draft resolution vetoed by the United States was initially proposed by Egypt, despite the closeness and exchange of remarks of praise between Trump and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, which indicates that regional allies would not approve a U.S. decision that provokes their peoples.

"The Arab public opinion is the driving force that will affect the U.S.-Arab relations following Trump's move and veto, for Arab governments have to take into account the positions of their peoples," Reedy pointed out.

Israel is blamed by the international community for the deadlock of the peace process due to its settlement expansion policy on Palestinian occupied territories, which is generally rejected even by its strongest ally, the United States.

The Cairo-based Arab League similarly said in a statement on Tuesday that the U.S. veto on Jerusalem will "increase Washington's isolation," describing it as "flagrant defiance of clear and maybe rare of international consensus."

After the U.S. veto, the 193-member UN General Assembly will hold an emergency meeting on Thursday at the request of Arab and Muslim countries on Jerusalem, with some Arab and regional states vowing to raise the vetoed UN draft resolution for another vote at the special session.

U.S. representative at the UN Nikki Haley warned in a letter to many UN member states on Tuesday that her country will remember those states that voted against the U.S. decision, adding that Trump will be attentively watching the vote at the UN General Assembly.

The Palestinian issue was the center of Arab concerns for decades, before the so-called Arab Spring uprisings that toppled a number of veteran Arab leaders and turned more attention to domestic political, economic and security challenges.

"A strong and influential Arab position is unlikely amid the current conditions," said Gamal Salama, dean of the faculty of economics and political science at the Suez Canal University.

He explained that the Palestinian cause after Trump's recent decision will enter a phase of "massive retreat" due to the current critical and uncertain circumstances of Arab states that are suffering unstable domestic conditions.

For decades, the United States has been brokering peace negations between its number one regional ally Israel and the Palestinians, yet the recent U.S. moves on Jerusalem raised further doubts about the U.S. integrity, fairness and non-bias as a Middle East peace mediator.

The senior political science professor believes that the recent veto of the U.S. administration against the UN draft resolution on Jerusalem will lead to cold U.S.-Arab relations.

"I believe Arab-U.S. relations will go through a stage of uneasiness in the coming period due to the massive political recklessness of Trump's administration," Salama told Xinhua, hailing the significance of Egypt's proposed draft resolution in favor of the Palestinian rights.

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