Show lead­er­ship, Boris tell­sTrump on Pales­tine

Western Mail - - NEWS - An­drew Wood­cock, Har­riet Line and Jon Vale news­desk@waleson­line.co.uk

BORIS John­son has called on Don­ald Trump to show “lead­er­ship” in restor­ing mo­men­tum to the Mid­dle East peace process, af­ter the US Pres­i­dent sparked waves of protest by an­nounc­ing he was recog­nis­ing Jerusalem as Is­rael’s cap­i­tal and would move the Amer­i­can em­bassy to the holy city.

Mr Trump’s an­nounce­ment on Wed­nes­day was de­scribed as “un­help­ful” by Mr John­son and Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May, while For­eign Of­fice Min­is­ter Alis­tair Burt said that other coun­tries would now have to come for­ward to fill the “trust deficit” the US had created in peace ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween Is­rael and Pales­tine.

Shadow for­eign sec­re­tary Emily Thorn­berry said that the gov­ern­ment had been “made to look like fools” by Mr Trump, and that Bri­tain needs lead­ers who are will­ing to “stand up to him”.

But Mr John­son in­sisted that the US re­mained the “pre-em­i­nent power” able to ex­ert in­flu­ence on the Mid­dle East peace process and said there was now an op­por­tu­nity for progress to be made.

An­swer­ing ques­tions af­ter a speech at the For­eign Of­fice in Lon­don, Mr John­son said: “A lot of peo­ple are very ex­cited and in­ter­ested in pos­si­bil­i­ties that the Amer­i­can ad­min­is­tra­tion, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, could bring to the Mid­dle East peace process.

“There is an op­por­tu­nity, there is a con­junc­ture of the stars, there is a moment – peo­ple think – when progress could be made.

“I think, this de­ci­sion hav­ing been an­nounced by Pres­i­dent Trump, the world would like to see some se­ri­ous an­nounce­ments by the US about how they see the Mid­dle East peace process and how to bring the two sides to­gether.

“I think that’s what we all want to see. If we are go­ing to have a move of the US em­bassy, then let’s also see some moves to­wards the long over­due res­o­lu­tion of the Mid­dle East peace process.”

While recog­nis­ing that the UK had a “moral obli­ga­tion” to work to­wards peace in the Mid­dle East, he added: “The United States is the pre-em­i­nent power that can now show lead­er­ship in re­solv­ing this ques­tion.

“I hope we will see from the US ad­min­is­tra­tion some poli­cies and some pro­grammes to bring the par­ties to­gether.”

Mr John­son stressed that the gov­ern­ment stuck by its po­si­tion that the sta­tus of Jerusalem must be re­solved as part of a ne­go­ti­ated set­tle­ment be­tween Is­rael and the Pales­tini­ans.

He added: “I view pre­ma­ture recog­ni­tion of Jerusalem as the cap­i­tal of Is­rael and moves of em­bassies as not help­ful in this con­text.

“It’s some­thing we want to do but it can­not be done un­til you have progress to­wards a two-state so­lu­tion.

“I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. I recog­nise of course that, by act of Congress, Amer­ica is com­mit­ted to do­ing it since 1995 in prin­ci­ple.

“But I think Amer­ica and all her al­lies have for a long time thought that was a card that should not be played un­til we could use it as an in­cen­tive to get the peace process mov­ing.”

Ask­ing an ur­gent ques­tion in the Com­mons about Mr Trump’s an­nounce­ment, Ms Thorn­berry was scathing about the gov­ern­ment’s policy to­wards the US.

“They told us that hold­ing his hand and hug­ging him close, in­dulging him with the of­fer of a state visit, was the best way of wield­ing in­flu­ence and shap­ing his poli­cies,” said the shadow for­eign sec­re­tary.

“But on Jerusalem, as on so many other is­sues be­fore, they have been made to look like fools.

“Weak, ig­nored and en­tirely with­out in­flu­ence.

“When will they re­alise that bend­ing over for a bully only en­cour­ages that be­hav­iour, when what our coun­try needs and what the world needs is a Bri­tish gov­ern­ment pre­pared to stand up to him?”

Mr Burt told MPs the UK was cospon­sor­ing a meet­ing with Euro­pean part­ners to­day at the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil where the is­sue will be dis­cussed.

He also urged the US ad­min­is­tra­tion to now bring for­ward de­tailed pro­pos­als for an Is­raeli and Pales­tinian set­tle­ment.

“The process has to move on,” he said, adding: “If the process was de­railed by this, that would com­pound the un­help­ful­ness of the de­ci­sion.”

Khalil Hamra

> Pales­tini­ans burn posters of Is­raeli PM Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump dur­ing a protest against the US de­ci­sion to recog­nise Jerusalem as Is­rael’s cap­i­tal, in Gaza City

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