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Jerusalem should be a shared capital: British FM

14 January 2018

Trump angered the Palestinians last week when he threatened in a pair of tweets to cut funding to the United Nations agency that handles Palestinian refugees if the Palestinian Authority doesn't talk peace with Israel.

While the Egyptian government was publicly denouncing the USA decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it was also coordinating with popular TV hosts to sway public opinion in the US' favor, The New York Times reported.

In what may be just the first in a series of aid freezes, the USA has withheld $125 million for the UNRWA, an agency that provides services for Palestinian refugees.

The top PLO official revealed that the upcoming PLO Central Council meeting will "define the relationship with Israel in all its aspects and how to confront the USA decision".

Egypt isn't the only Arab country tacitly accepting Trump's decision.

Jordan's foreign minister and the head of the Arab League said they would push for an global resolution on naming Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. Privately, it understands that USA support for both UNRWA and the Palestinian Authority is in Israel's interest because it maintains the status quo and alleviates a financial burden for Israel.

Trump tweeted on January 2 that the US pays the Palestinians "HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year" and gets "no appreciation or respect" in return.

"The general trend is to focus on how to deal with the emerging situation, considering Palestine as a state under occupation and requesting full United Nations membership for Palestine, which requires extensive worldwide support", he said. But the Egyptian tapes are seen as reinforcement of the new reality: Saudi Arabia - referred to by the Times as "the most influential Arab state" and the author of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative - has accepted Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem as has Egyptian President al-Sisi. In 2012, the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine in a resolution that said the status of Jerusalem should be resolved through negotiations.

"Our Arab ministerial meeting today in Amman came to discuss the mechanism for action and joint coordination to counter the decision recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and back the Palestinians to establish their state on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital", Safadi said.

Last Tuesday, President Donald Trump said the United States may withhold future aid payments to Palestinians, accusing them of being unwilling to talk peace with Israel. He added that the organization "must disappear" because the Palestinians' right to return to Israel was a stance meant to eliminate the State of Israel.

An Israeli civilian died of wounds suffered Tuesday night in a gun attack on his auto near a settlement in the north of the occupied West Bank, the army said.

The committee - created at an emergency meeting of the Arab League in Cairo on December 9, just days after Trump's declaration - is hoping to reverse the decision and "to assert that it has no legal effect", Safadi told reporters at the summit.

Jerusalem should be a shared capital: British FM