Diana Buttu, Political analyst, former advisor to Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian negotiators:
“President Trump’s announcement that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital sends the message that ‘might is right.’ It is important to remember that no country in the world has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital because the city was acquired by Israel by force during wartime, and its annexation of it in 1980 was a flagrant violation of international law.
“One of the most basic principles of international law is that countries cannot acquire territory through war. What Trump is doing is rewarding Israel for violating the law. This is why the world should be pushing back against this dangerous move with sanctions on Israel for its flouting of the law and the will of the international community.
“Trump is right that the old strategies have failed. And this is why a new strategy should be pursued. - that of isolating and imposing sanctions on Israel. By continuing to gently cajole Israel instead of applying concrete pressure, as most states around the world have done, the message that Israel receives is that with time and through more illegal, unilateral actions, they will eventually be rewarded.
“Israel will interpret today’s announcement as a greenlight to continue to build and expand illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land in East Jerusalem in violation of nearly 50 years of official US policy, to continue destroying Palestinian homes in the city, and to expel Palestinians from Jerusalem. This is a sad day for anyone who cares about peace in the Middle East.”
“The United States has always had its thumb on the scales for Israel but it has simultaneously maintained certain rhetorical positions on settlements and Jerusalem, most importantly, that provided a facade of neutrality. This facade was instrumental in maintaining the idea of a ‘peace process’ even when it was defunct and ineffective.
“With his announcement on Jerusalem today, coupled with his shift on settlements as well, even this facade has evaporated. The PLO entered negotiations during the Madrid conference in 1991 based on certain American guarantees that included neutrality on the issue of Jerusalem. By unilaterally changing this, Trump has demolished the foundation of the peace process as no Palestinian leader could engage in negotiations this transparently biased toward Israel.
"There were few believers in American mediation left, and now, mercifully, there will be fewer. This clarification should add to the ranks of those calling for civil society action to hold Israel accountable for violations of Palestinian rights through the use of boycotts, divestment and sanctions.”
Zaha Hassan, Human rights attorney and Middle East Fellow at New America. During Palestine’s bid for UN membership and Quartet-sponsored talks between 2010 and 2012, Ms. Hassan was the coordinator and legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team:
“Despite the fact that the virtually the entire world cautioned against US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, including 151 countries and the Pope, President Trump says it is in the best interests of the US and the pursuit of peace.
“With Christmas decorations adorning the backdrop of the White House, his remarks about keeping Jerusalem open to all seemed surreal, especially given that the birthplace of Jesus Christ, Bethlehem, is surrounded by walls, turrets and Israeli checkpoints. Though Trump argued that recognizing Israel’s exclusivity over the Holy City is a brave move, for the Palestinian Christians and Muslims it is disastrous as it will give Israel the green light to continue to demolish Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, evict Palestinian families, and revoke Palestinian residency rights, all to maintain Israel’s decisive majority in the city.
“To say that the US would support a two-state solution ‘if both parties agree’ while Israel has said its army will never leave the occupied West Bank or remove a single Israeli settlement means Palestinians are condemned to indefinite military rule and apartheid.”