The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting on Friday to address the fallout from US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The UN's Mideast envoy called for urgent international efforts to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace, warning that if the conflict isn't resolved "it risks being engulfed in the vortex of religious radicalism throughout the Middle East."
Nickolay Mladenov said there is a risk of escalating violence following Trump's decision — and "a serious risk" of "a chain of unilateral actions" that would push the goal of peace further away.
He pointed to clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces and some calls for a new intifada, or uprising.
Mladenov reiterated Secretary General Antonio Guterres' words that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be resolved through direct negotiations and that "there is no Plan B to the two-state solution."
US Ambassador to the US Nikki Haley remarked however that Trump took his decision to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians. She said that he was aware that recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would raise “questions and concerns,” but Washington is more committed to peace "than we've ever been before — and we believe we might be closer to that goal than ever before."
The Trump administration has been working on a new peace plan, but Haley gave no details.
She noted that past Israeli-Palestinian agreements have been signed on the White House lawn, and if there is a new agreement there is "a good likelihood" it will be signed there as well "because the United States has credibility of both sides."
Haley urged all countries "to temper statements and actions in the days ahead," saying anyone who used Trump's announcement as a pretext for violence would show that they were "unfit partners for peace."
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat later told Al Jazeera TV that the Palestinians will not talk to the US until Trump reverses his decision on Jerusalem.
Erekat also said the Palestinian leadership was considering all options in response to Trump's announcement, the channel reported in a newsflash, without giving further details.
Britain called on the US to put forward detailed proposals for peace between Israel and the Palestinians and described as “unhelpful” Trump’s decision on Jerusalem.
“The UK will also do everything we can to support progress and achieve the vision of a lasting peace,” British UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told the Security Council.
Earlier, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said it will likely take several years before the US opens an embassy in Jerusalem.
He added during a press conference with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris that it will "take some time" to acquire a site for the embassy, develop building and construction plans, obtain authorizations from the Israeli government and actually build the embassy.
He added Trump's recognition of the city as Israel's capital "did not indicate any final status for Jerusalem."
The US is making clear that Jerusalem's borders will be left to Israelis and Palestinians to "negotiate and decide,” Tillerson explained.
For his part, Le Drian told France Inter radio: “I hear some, including Mr. Tillerson, say things will happen in time and the hour is for negotiations. Until now (the US) could have had a mediation role in this conflict, but it has excluded itself a little.”
“The reality is they are alone and isolated on this issue.”