“The US embassy ought to be in the capital city of the country which is accredited as the right and natural thing to do, and it’s not an issue of quid pro quo,” Bolton said of the US embassy move to Jerusalem
President Donald Trump’s national security adviser says there’s no timetable for releasing the administration’s much-anticipated Mideast peace plan and that the move of the US embassy from to Jerusalem was a principled move that was not made in return for Israeli concessions.
John Bolton said Wednesday in Jerusalem at a press conference to sum up his three-day work visit in Israel that a “lot of progress” has been made, but he refused to speculate what the plan entailed or when it may be publicized. The Trump administration recently began staffing its Mideast policy team ahead of the plan’s expected release.
“On the peace plan, work continues. There are a lot of consultations that are underway, and there’s no decision on when the timing of the full plan will be announced,” he stated. “I think there’s been a lot of progress in relations in the region as a result of the process of going through the possible outlines of what the plan would look like. There have been dramatic geo-strategic changes in the Middle East with the recognition that the Iran deal has failed and failed badly. That gives the possibility of re-alignment with Israel and many of its Arab neighbors that no one would have predicted years before.”
“In terms of the specifics of when the plan might be rolled out, no decision as of now,” he said.
Trump officials have long promised the most comprehensive package ever put forward toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians have stated they consider it a non-starter given Trump’s alleged bias toward Israel and his unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as its capital.
Not an issue of quid pro quo
At a West Virginia rally on Tuesday, Trump said Israel will pay a “higher price” for that move and the Palestinians will “get something very good” in return.
Responding to a reporter’s question on Trump’s statement, Bolton stated that “I don’t think there’s any change in policy. I think the president looked at the recognition of Jerusalem as being Israel’s capital and the inevitable consequence of that – that the US embassy ought to be in the capital city of the country which is accredited as the right and natural thing to do, and it’s not an issue of quid pro quo.”
Trump has “made the point, I think, several times that this issue has been a hang-up in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. And as he said last night as well, he’s taken that issue off the table. As a deal-maker… he would expect that the Palestinians would say, ‘Okay, great – we didn’t get that one, now we want something else.’ We’ll see how it goes,” he added.
“But the fundamental point is that this is something that the parties are going to have to agree on,” Bolton underscored.
He stressed that “the real point is the president did the right thing in moving the embassy to Israel’s capital. And that in and of itself brings reality to the negotiations.”
“It was a very positive step forward not just for Israel, but for the Palestinians as well,” he concluded.