TEL AVIV – President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem had nothing to do with the peace process that he is still hoping to resume in the coming months, White House officials said on Thursday, adding that the Palestinians’ “short-term pain” is outweighed by hard facts that need to be accepted.
Speaking to the Jerusalem Post on the condition of anonymity, one administration official said Israel’s presence in Jerusalem was fully legitimate and just, but that fact had no bearing on the city’s final status in future negotiations.
“We know there will be short-term pain,” the official said, “but in the long term, [Trump’s] action will help with those conversations.”
The Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas must realize that its only chance of obtaining independence is with the help of the U.S., the official said.
He added that the Palestinian cause is no longer high on the Arab world’s agenda, and certainly no Sunni ally will risk damaging American ties over the peace process, particularly with the Iranian threat taking center stage.
Wednesday’s declaration, in which Trump departed from decades of de facto policy by saying he would move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, was entirely driven by the president himself, the official said.
“This was not designed,” the White House official said. “This was a separate decision from the [peace] process. But as you can see from the president’s speech, we remain incredibly committed.”
“He reiterated his commitment to peace, and nothing in his speech prevents a peace process from happening– and we made very clear that we’re not prejudging any final status negotiations,” the Post quoted the source as saying.
Another senior official said Trump’s peace team, led by son-in-law Jared Kushner, was “in the loop” regarding Trump’s deliberations involving Jerusalem “even if they were not primarily advocating for the move or proposing it as a part of their broader strategy to reconstitute a peace process,” the report cited a senior official as saying.
“Certain parties are going to react the way they need to react,” that official said. “We expect bumps along the way.”
The report cited another member of the adminstration as saying, “We’re going to still keep our heads down and present our plan when the time is right. We believe the world will ultimately realize that the US plays an essential role in facilitating peace.”