Husam Zomlot, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s delegation to the US, has called President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel “shot at the heart of the two-state solution”.
In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera’s UpFront, Zomlot condemned Trump’s announcement that the US formally recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and that it would begin the process of moving its embassy to the city.
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“Disavowing and actually reneging on a written US promise about the status of Jerusalem and the two-state solution is a stab in the back, and is a kiss of death to the two-state solution,” he said.
“The two-state solution, from the US point of view and mediation, is dead.”
Breaking with decades of US policy, Trump on December 6 said that the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was “nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality.”
“Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital,” Trump said.
“Israel has made its capital in the city of Jerusalem – the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times.
The two-state solution, from the US point-of-view and mediation, is dead
“Today, Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, as well as the Israeli Supreme Court.”
Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets of Jerusalem to protest against the move, which was widely condemned by world leaders.
Speaking to Mehdi Hasan, Zomlot said Trump’s decision “damaged the US’ status as a mediator” and “the ability of the US to actually bring about a two-state solution”.
“They actually disempowered the constituency of peace,” Zomlot said.
“And they empowered who? The Armageddonist, the non-solutionist, the ideologues, the terrorists who are burning families in the West Bank, the settlers, and the settler movement who are in control.”
On Thursday, Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the PLO, told Haaretz that “President Trump has delivered a message to the Palestinian people: the two-state solution is over”.
Asked if he thought the two-state solution was dead, Zomlot responded: “I don’t like dramatic statements.
“This is being premature. Give the Palestinian leadership the ability to convene.
“This is a strategic moment; this is not a reactionary moment.”
Throughout Thursday, Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank, with further protests taking place on Friday.
Reflecting on the impact of Trump’s announcement, Zomlot said: “It was a catastrophic moment. It was a very hurtful moment … But it was also a moment that we saw the opportunity.
“This announcement by President Trump has brought Jerusalem back on the international agenda.
“Jerusalem remains Jerusalem. Nothing will touch its status, its identity, its belonging.
“The question is, where do we go now in the political and strategic sense? And I believe we Palestinians are capable.
“But for us, the most important side of the story is our self-reliance on our belief, which is unshaken.”