May and Corbyn criticise Trump’s ‘unhelpful’ recognition of Jerusalem

May and Corbyn criticise Trump’s ‘unhelpful’ recognition of Jerusalem

British prime minister reiterates her disapproval of the U.S. president's decision, and calls for the city to be shared

Prime Minister Theresa May he
Prime Minister Theresa May he

Theresa May has criticised Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, describing it as unhelpful for the peace process in the region.

The Prime Minister said she disagrees with the president’s decision and reiterated Britain’s position that the city should be the shared capital of Israel and Palestine in a negotiated two-state solution.

In a White House speech, Mr Trump said his move “marks the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians” and that it was in America’s interests.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described Mr Trump’s move as “reckless”.

The president also announced plans to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the holy city but Mrs May said Britain had no plans to follow suit.

In a statement, the PM said: “We disagree with the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital before a final status agreement.

“We believe it is unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region. The British Embassy to Israel is based in Tel Aviv and we have no plans to move it.

“Our position on the status of Jerusalem is clear and long-standing: it should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states.

“In line with relevant Security Council Resolutions, we regard East Jerusalem as part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

Mr Corbyn tweeted: “Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, including occupied Palestinian territory, is a reckless threat to peace.

“The British Government must condemn this dangerous act and work for a just and viable settlement of the conflict.”

Mrs May said Britain shares Mr Trump’s desire to end the Israel-Palestine conflict and welcomed his commitment to a negotiated two state solution.

She also “noted the importance” of his acknowledgement that the final status of Jerusalem, including the sovereign boundaries within the city, should be subject to negotiations.

“We encourage the US administration to now bring forward detailed proposals for an Israel-Palestinian settlement,” she added.

“To have the best chances of success, the peace process must be conducted in an atmosphere free from violence. We call on all parties to work together to maintain calm.”

Palestinians see Mr Trump’s move as a decision to side with Israel on one of the most sensitive issues in the conflict.

They see east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in 1967, as their capital.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Mr Trump has destroyed his credibility as a Middle East peace broker, describing his decision as “a declaration of withdrawal from the role it (the US) has played in the peace process”.

But Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country “profoundly grateful”, adding that Mr Trump’s announcement marks a “historic day” and is an “important step towards peace”.

He said his country “will continue to work with the president and his team to make that dream of peace come true”.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres criticised “unilateral measures” that jeopardise the prospect for peace for Israelis and Palestinians.

He said the issue of Jerusalem must be resolved through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Mr Guterres told reporters: “In this moment of great anxiety, I want to make it clear: There is no alternative to the two-state solution. There is no Plan B.”

Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the militant group Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip, said Palestinians “know how to respond properly to the disregard of their feelings and sanctuaries”.

Earlier reports of Mr Trump’s plan sparked security warnings on Tuesday, with US personnel and their families ordered to avoid visiting Jerusalem’s Old City or the West Bank.

The US has never previously endorsed the Jewish state’s claim of sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem, insisting its status must be resolved through Israeli-Palestinian negotiation.

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