“I don’t think anybody believes the US can be replaced in this process,” a White House official said.
By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News
European countries do not think they can replace the US as the main broker in the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process, a senior White House official said Tuesday, countering Palestinian efforts to replace the US with a European leadership.
“There isn’t a single European country or other country we’ve spoken to since the December 6 announcement [recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital] that in any way, shape or form believes a US-led process could be replaced,” the senior White House official added, according to the Times of Israel. “They all want to work with the US, despite the Palestinian reaction.”
The official explained how the Trump administration views its role as a mediator in the process.
“In our view, it’s not our job to impose a deal on either side. It’s our job to present a plan that we think is appropriate, reasonable, fair for both sides, in particular for the Palestinians to have a brighter future, and it’s going to be up to the parties to make their decisions if they can come to terms on a deal,” he said.
While the Palestinian leadership has cut all direct ties with Washington since President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month, the official believes that this is not the wish of the Palestinian people.
“One of the tragic things that I have noticed since December 6 is there are so many Palestinians who are reaching out. They all want to continue to talk, but they’re all afraid to talk….They’re under a lot of pressure not to talk. It doesn’t bode well for what we’re trying to create if there’s no freedom of speech among the Palestinians, so that troubles me greatly. And we’re trying to figure out how to deal with it,” he added.
The Palestinians have declared that the US can no longer serve as a broker in the diplomatic process, and are seeking another international mediator more favorable to their positions.
As part of that effort, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was in Belgium this week where he met with EU policy makers in an attempt to garner their support for recognizing Palestine. It appeared, however, that he had failed in his mission.
“I don’t think anybody believes the US can be replaced in this process,” the official said. “Frankly, I don’t believe the Palestinians believe the US can be replaced in this process.”
“We also obviously hit bumps in the road. We are hitting a bump right now. Some would call it a huge bump. Some would call it an expected bump. But one thing we are certain is any time we would put out a calendar we would blow through those deadlines,” the official said of the current situation.
In Jerusalem on Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence repeated his conviction that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital will ultimately help move the Israeli-Palestinian peace process along.
“President Trump truly believes that the decision the United States has made to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, we believe, will set the table for the opportunity to move forward in meaningful negotiations to achieve a lasting peace,” he said.