President Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem is an upset to years of US policy

President Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem is an upset to years of US policy
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has likely erased any foreseeable potential for a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians, and undermined the prospects of the United States continuing to be seen as an honest broker in the region. As the US Ambassador to Morocco, I was present in Rabat on December 12, 2000, when Dennis RossDennis Alan RossGOP, White House start playing midterm blame game Reshaping US aid to the Palestinians Trump allies want Congress to find anonymous op-ed author MORE, President Clinton’s Special Middle East Coordinator, presented Yasser Arafat and his team (during a very long night which ended at 3am the next morning) with a final comprehensive plan, known as the “Clinton Parameters”, that would address all outstanding issues among the parties and lead to a full and comprehensive peace.

The Clinton Parameters encompassed not only the principle of land for peace and security, but- tilting to Israel’s interests - proposed the principle of no right of return (except for extreme hardship cases), offering Palestinians compensation for the loss of their land in Israel as well as assistance in any voluntary moves to the new Palestinian state or third countries. Most importantly, President Clinton – now tilting to the Palestinian interests - proposed that Jerusalem be the capital for two states, separating sovereignty in the city under the principle that whatever is Arab will be under Palestine’s rule, and whatever is Jewish under Israel’s.

Ambassador Ross said at the time that he had never seen President Arafat so positive, as Arafat inquired why Prime Minister Barak would accept such a solution. Ross explained that PM Barak could not win his next election without a peace deal stating, “He may not be able to win the election with a peace deal, but he surely cannot win without it.” He went on to say that there was no other choice for the parties but a two-state solution, with two countries living in peace, sharing Jerusalem as their capital.

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Many Arab leaders in the Middle East supported a two state solution, went on to recognize Israel’s existence, and put their full support behind President Clinton’s proposal. Morocco’s King Mohammed VI was briefed on the Clinton Parameters on Christmas Day in 2000 and immediately called President Arafat to encourage him to accept. Later that week, the King would invite Israeli leader Shimon Peres to Rabat to encourage Israel to accept the deal, an unusual and very special capability for an Arab leader.

 

And although the Clinton Parameters expired when President Clinton stepped down in January of 2001, as of yesterday, the Clinton Parameters were still widely believed to be the outline for an ultimate solution to any peace deal. Unfortunately, President Trump’s recent decision threatens to put the final nail in the coffin of the Oslo accords and a two state solution.

Fast forward to this week. In his Dec. 5 to President Trump, King Mohammed VI expressed his “deep concern” stating, “Jerusalem is at the heart of final status issues. For this reason, its legal status needs to be preserved and nothing should be undertaken that might affect its current political status.” 

While the repercussions of President Trump’s actions remain uncertain, a two state solution with Jerusalem as a capital for two states, could be in jeopardy. Israel will certainly pocket this win and end any further meaningful discussion about sharing Jerusalem between Palestine and Israel. The U.S. gave a major negotiating point away for nothing, not even demanding the ending of settlements. And without Jerusalem being simultaneously announced the capital for Palestine as well, there will be no meaningful negotiation in the foreseeable future.

Rather — once the bloodshed stops — it is very possible the Palestinians and many world leaders will call for one state only, granting equal rights and equal protection under the law for all Palestinians, in what is now Israel. Such a proposal divides the population of a combined state into roughly a 50/50 split between Jews and Arabs living inside the jurisdiction of Israel. This could eventually lead to the end of any Israeli Jewish state.

This latest move may also reinforce the desire for the countries of the Middle East and Europe to recalculate their relationship with the U.S. It could become a tipping point for their no longer viewing the U.S. as a neutral arbiter in any peace process, nor a dependable long term partner. New coalitions and new alliances will form, excluding the U.S. And, besides Israel, the only countries cheering this decision will be Russia and China, and they will surely seize on this new opportunity to fill the void left by the U.S. in the region with new strategic alliances.

So what did we gain and how have we helped our interests in the world? These concerns were sadly missing in President Trump’s unfortunate decision.

Edward Gabriel served as U.S. ambassador to Morocco from 1997-2001 and is now the president of a strategic international consulting company.