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George Mitchell on Jerusalem Move: 'Premature, Unwise'

Image: George Mitchell on Jerusalem Move: 'Premature, Unwise'
Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (Niall Carson/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 07 Dec 2017 03:42 PM

President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital was "premature and unwise" because he "effectively undercut his own policy" regarding Mideast peace, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell said Thursday.

"The reality is that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, always will be," Mitchell, 84, who represented Maine and served as Senate Democratic leader from 1989 to 1995, told Brooke Baldwin on CNN. "There is no doubt about that.

"But the real question is whether there will ever be a Palestinian capital in eastern Jerusalem or a sovereign and independent Palestinian state.

"The president effectively undercut his own policy, which is he wants negotiations between the parties to reach agreement on a solution, and he says he'll accept a two-state solution.

"Personally, that's the only viable solution.

"But this action makes it much less likely that you'll get them started — and if you get them started, less likely to produce a desirable result."

President Trump on Wednesday reversed decades of U.S. policy and announced his administration would also begin efforts to move the United States embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which is expected to take years.

Protests erupted throughout the Arab world Thursday, with the Islamist group Hamas urging Palestinians to abandon peace efforts and launch a new uprising against Israel.

The Israeli military said it was reinforcing troops in the occupied West Bank, deploying several new army battalions and putting other forces on standby, describing the measures as part of its "readiness for possible developments."

Overall, however, protests so far have been scattered and largely non-violent.

Mitchell, who served a U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace under former President Barack Obama, noted to Baldwin "it's important to say what the president did not say" in Wednesday's speech.

Trump did not "try to define the boundaries of Jerusalem," he said. "He said he was not doing so.

"He did not preclude a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem.

"So, while the anger and hostility of the Palestinians and their allies in the region is understandable, because this action was so unnecessary, nonetheless, I hope they don't overreact to it.

"I hope the violence is not widespread," Mitchell added.

"Because I think in time both the Palestinians and Israelis will understand that it's best for them, in their self-interest, not in the act of charity, to reach agreement so they can be two states living side by side in peace."

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Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell said Thursday that President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital was "premature and unwise" because he "effectively undercut his own policy" regarding Mideast peace.
jerusalem, embassy, palestinians, hamas, george mitchell
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2017-42-07
Thursday, 07 Dec 2017 03:42 PM
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