Dubai: “[Occupied] Jerusalem has been, is now and will remain the capital of Israel,” Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield said during a telephonic press briefing from Washington DC on Sunday, following US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
When Gulf News asked about the furore among US foreign service staffers regarding this move, Satterfield said the question amounted to “editorialising”, adding that the foreign service “executes US policy”.
The Arab League has asked Trump to reverse his decision, but the diplomat emphatically said the answer was ‘no’. “The decision stands. The president believes this is the right step at the right moment. It is US policy.”
Asked what the impact would be of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to not meet US Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to the region, Satterfield referred the questioner to Pence’s office, but added: “Only through dialogue, exchanges, and inclusion … can we move forward.”
Defending the president’s position, he said it was a recognition of realities, adding that he hoped world leaders understood what was said. “Our intent is to help create a process in which Israelis and Palestinians can hope to look for a new future. The president recognised [occupied] Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, without commenting on specific geographic limits.”
On the new peace plan, the so-called ‘deal of the century’, Satterfield said the US hoped to move forward “at a point in the new year and details will await roll-out”.
Asked when the embassy will be relocated from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem, he said, “Designing and opening an embassy anywhere in the world takes years.”