British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Monday said the world is waiting with “great interest” for the Trump administration’s peace plan, while calling on the US to offer incentives to the Palestinians “to get things moving.”
Speaking alongside Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Johnson sounded an upbeat note on peace prospects, despite the fallout from US President Donald Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“There is a moment of opportunity here. A process that has been stalled for years, if not decades, could see some progress,” he said.
Asked if Trump’s decision on Jerusalem was harmful to the peace process, Johnson said: “It’s possible that it could help to push things along if there is symmetrical movement in the other direction.”
Johnson called the American recognition of Jerusalem last month “premature.” UK Prime Minister Theresa May said it was “unhelpful,” stressing that the city’s status should be determined in negotiations between the sides.
Trump, in his speech, said his decision was not meant to take a position on the city’s final boundaries and called for access to holy sites to remain unfettered.
Trump’s declaration sparked anger among the Palestinians, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas saying shortly after the US was no longer an honest broker in peace talks.
Abbas has continued to ramp up his rhetoric against the US since then, cursing Trump in a speech earlier this month in which he called the peace deal being formulated by the White House the “slap of the century.”
In a speech to the Knesset, US Vice President Mike Pence on Monday called for the Palestinians to “return to the table,” saying “Peace can only come through dialogue.”
His comments came as Abbas was in Brussels to urge European Union member states to recognize a Palestinian state.
While in the region, Pence will not meet with Abbas or other PA officials, who have refused to meet with Trump administration officials regarding the peace process since Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.