Jared Kushner says 'US still committed to Middle East peace deal' as 41 killed and hundreds injured in protests over Jerusalem embassy

The opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem has been hugely controversial 

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Monday 14 May 2018 15:12 BST
Jared Kushner: The United States stands with Israel

Jared Kushner has claimed America remains committed to helping broker a Middle East peace deal, even as more than 40 Palestinians were killed and hundreds injured in protests over the opening of a US embassy in Jerusalem.

Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a presidential adviser tasked with helping secure a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, said the decision by Mr Trump last December to recognise Jerusalem as Israeli’s capital, would help the peace process, rather than hinder it.

“When President Trump makes a promise, he keeps it,” Mr Kushner said at the embassy’s opening ceremony. “Today also demonstrates American leadership. By moving our embassy to Jerusalem, we have shown the world once again that the United States can be trusted.”

His comments followed a video address from Mr Trump, broadcast at the opening ceremony on Monday at what was previously the Consulate General of the United States, in which he said the facility’s news status had been a “long time coming”.

Having tweeted earlier that it was “a great day for Israel”, Mr Trump claimed his greatest hope was to bring peace to the region.

He said the United States “remains fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement”.

The White House also issued a briefing document that claimed Mr Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel “does not mean the United States has taken a position on final status negotiations”.

Trump: 'Jerusalem was the right thing to do, we took that off the table'

Yet, the move has infuriated the Palestinians, who claim east Jerusalem as their capital and have said that the move disqualifies the US as a Mideast peace mediator. For decades, the international community had agreed that the final status of Jerusalem had to be part of a broader settlement agreed by Israel and the Palestinians.

As a result, with few exceptions, countries based their embassies in Tel Aviv, Israel’s second largest city.

As reports from the border Gaza said more than 40 protesters have been killed by Israeli soldiers and more than 1,300 injured, Mr Kushner claimed Palestinians participating in the protests were “part of the problem and not part of the solution”.

The death toll marked the deadliest day in cross-border violence since 2014. However, Mr Kushner said the “journey to peace started with a strong America recognisng the truth”.

“We stand with our friends and our allies, and above all else, we’ve shown that the United States of America will do what’s right,” he said. “While presidents before him have backed down from their pledge to move the American Embassy once they were in office, this [resident delivered. Because when President Trump makes a promise, he keeps it.”

Mr Kushner, who received warm applause when he praised Mr Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Iran nuclear deal, claimed there was still an opportunity for both sides to benefit.

“We believe, it is possible for both sides to gain more than they give – so that all people can live in peace – safe from danger, free from fear, and able to pursue their dreams,” he said.

The opening of the embassy was quickly denounced by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. His spokesman said the opening of the embassy would create incitement and instability in the region. He said it was impossible for Washington to play a part in brokering a peace deal.

“With this step, the US administration has cancelled its role in the peace process and has insulted the world, the Palestinian people and the Arab and the Islamic nation and it has created incitement and instability,” said Nabil Abu Rdeineh, according to Reuters.

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