Details

When

January 25, 2018, 12:00 pm - December 17, 2018, 12:31 pm

Where

The Middle East Institute
1319 18th Street NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20036 (Map)

President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to relocate the U.S. embassy there was met with Arab and international censure. The United Nations General Assembly voted 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions, for a resolution demanding that the United States rescind this declaration. Human rights groups decry the decision as a death knell for the two-state solution.

How has this departure from decades of U.S. policy reverberated within Palestinian political circles, and among the Palestinian people? How does this decision impact Palestinian-American relations as well as relations with Europe, the Arab countries, and the international community?  If this decision marks the end of the two-state solution, does it indicate movement toward a one state solution?

The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to host a conversation with Ambassador Husam Zomlot, head of the PLO General Delegation to the United States. Ambassador Zomlot will address the implications of this announcement on Palestinians as well as their Arab neighbors, and how a future peace process might be revived. MEI’s Senior Vice President for Policy Research and Programs, Paul Salem, will moderate the discussion.

Speaker Biographies:
Amb. Husam Zomlot
Head, PLO General Delegation to the United States
Ambassador Dr. Husam S. Zomlot currently serves as the Head of the PLO General Delegation to the United States. He is also strategic advisor to Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. Zomlot’s official roles include Ambassador-at-large for the Palestinian Presidency as well as Charge d'Affairs of the Palestinian mission to the United Kingdom. ​He was elected to the Fatah Council as director of its Foreign Relations Commission. Zomlot was previously professor of public policy at Birzeit University, where he co-founded and chaired the Birzeit School of Government. He has held teaching and research positions at both Harvard University and the University of London. His professional involvements include working as an economist for the United Nations, economic researcher with the London School of Economics as well the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute.

Paul Salem, moderator
Senior vice president for policy research and programs, MEI
Paul Salem is senior vice president for policy research and programs at MEI. He focuses on issues of political change, transition, and conflict as well as the regional and international relations of the Middle East.  He has a particular emphasis on the countries of the Levant and Egypt. Salem writes regularly in the Arab and Western press and has been published in numerous journals and newspapers. Salem is the author and editor of a number of books and reports including From Chaos to Cooperation: Toward Regional Order in the Middle East (ed. with Ross Harrison, 2017), Broken Orders: The Causes and Consequences of the Arab Uprisings (In Arabic, 2013), “The Recurring Rise and Fall of Political Islam” (CSIS, 2015), “The Middle East in 2015 and Beyond: Trends and Drivers” (MEI 2014), Bitter Legacy: Ideology and Politics in the Arab World (1994), Conflict Resolution in the Arab World (ed., 1997).  Prior to joining MEI, Salem was the founding director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, Lebanon between 2006 and 2013.  From 1999 to 2006, he was director of the Fares Foundation and in 1989-1999 founded and directed the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, Lebanon's leading public policy think tank.

Transcript:

Paul Salem:    Good afternoon. My name is Paul Salem, and I’m the senior vice president for policy, research and programs here at the Middle East Institute. Very pleased to welcome you all today and to welcome our esteemed guest, his Excellency Ambassador Husam Zomlot, Husam welcome.

On December 6, President Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to relocate the U.S. Embassy there. This statement was quickly condemned by the United Nations General Assembly, international media, and regional governments as well as several around the world. Vice President Mike Pence in a recent speech to the Israeli Knesset reaffirmed the move and stated that the embassy would move next year. Trumps announcement represents a departure from decades of U.S. policy and is widely seen as a threat to any future peace process and even a death nail for a two-state solution. We are left wondering how the United States may salvage any future possibility of brokering an ultimate deal between Israel and the Palestinians, let alone Israel and the Arabs, as well as how Palestinians will navigate their future relations with Israel, with Arab neighbors, and with international players and institutions.The U.S. has also reduced its contribution to UNRWA by fifty percent after threatening to cut even more aid to the Palestinians.

Here to discuss these questions is Ambassador Husam Zomlot. Ambassador Zomlot currently serves as head of the PLO general delegation to the United States, he is also strategic advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. His official roles include Ambassador at large for the Palestinian presidency, as well as charge d’affaires of the Palestinian mission to the United Kingdom.

We hope that Ambassador Zomlot will help us to understand how recent U.S. policy has reverberated among the Palestinians and in the region. We hope he will share his views of how the Palestinian leadership is responding to this decision and reconsidering its strategies towards the two-state solution or other avenues maintaining the Palestinian authority etc.

This discussion is being recorded for posting on the MEI website. There’s also a number of television crews here to cover the event so we do ask you to silence your mobile phones. We do encourage tweeting during the event, please use the hashtag MEI Palestine. Ambassador Zomlot will make opening remarks, I will then engage him in a conversation, and then we will turn to you for your questions, and the program will end at 1:15. Please join me in welcoming Ambassador Husam Zomlot.  

Amb. Husam Zomlot:    Paul, thank you very much, it’s such a great pleasure to actually meet you after all these years. I remember our last deep, informative conversation in Beirut a few years ago and how much I left that conversation feeling I needed more time with such an intellectual and such a brain. And also it gives me a great pleasure to be here, to be back at the Middle East Institute. A place that I consider to be home to serious policy discussion.

Thank you very much for giving me this very important opportunity and timely opportunity. And thanks to a more than a full house. It’s really impressive and I know this is about the issue, it’s how much you all care here. I was told that there are congressmen in attendance, I was told there were people who had to cancel their events to be here, I hope I’m not gonna disappoint you. And I hope I will live up to what Paul wanted me to do today, especially in light of the remarks by President Trump only two hours ago in Davos during his meeting with Netanyahu.

But, let me really focus in the introduction not on positions, or feelings, or even for that matter personalized issues. This is not about persons or individuals, I would like to focus on where this institution want me to focus and this audience wants me to focus, which is policy. And here I’d like to focus on our policy. The policy of Palestine, the Palestinian policy, because I think it’s about time that we also reiterate very clearly where we stand, and where we are going, and how do we intend to reach that destination. This is policy because there is a lot of nonsense going around, and it is crucial from time to time that we revert back to sanity, and to policy, and to objectives.

Now, let me state the following just so we frame the discussion. I would like to start by talking about the decision we took in 1988, so we frame the whole Palestinian policy. The Declaration by the Palestine National Council on the fifteenth of November 1988 marks a transformation in Palestinian policy. That declaration was announcing an independent state of Palestine on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem the capital of the state of Palestine. Absofacto, effectively, that declaration was accepting the Reagan administration and the international requirements on us. Effectively, it was the beginning of accepting a logic that was difficult for us prior to 1988, took so many years, was difficult to accept three major international logics led by the United States directly from President Reagan.

The first logic we must recognize the state of Israel on 78% of what we consider to be our own land. Second condition, we must renounce violence. And the third, we must respect, accept international resolutions ie. UN Security Council resolution 242 338, which the U.S. voted for and cosponsered. That declaration was a strategic Palestinian decision to align itself with these three components.

Shortly after, the second most important date was 1991 which was the start of the ongoing peace process, the Madrid Peace Process. The U.S. administration picked the signal that the Palestinians have paid their dues, that the people of Palestine and their leadership are ready to engage in what the international community, led by the U.S., sees to be the only policy alternative, the only option possible for peace. Since then, the prime factor, reason, purpose of our engagement is this policy. That any peace process would be based on, and I am quoting, Secretary Baker, James Baker, his letter to us was the letter that enabled us to actually accept the U.S. invitation to the Madrid Peace Conference. In that letter it was very clear that the U.S. invite us to the peace process, multilateral at the time, based on the following principles.

The first principle UN Security Council Resolutions 242 338 land for peace what we are engaged in is not discussing the principles ending occupation that's the 242 that's the first sentence the illegality of the seizure of land by force. We were not in the Madrid to discuss the principle of ending occupation, or the principle of establishing an independent sovereign state of Palestine, or the principle of establishing that state with East Jerusalem its capital, or the principle of the right of return for the Palestinian refugees. We accepted the invitation because the process was about the modalities, the modalities, of implementing international resolutions, and by the way the Madrid peace process created so many modalities, mechanisms for implementation. We accepted because Secretary Kerry was very clear in his letter one paragraph, I'm sorry Baker, and Kerry later will come to Secretary Kerry. Secretary Baker in his letter to the Palestinians, to us, knew that the most significant part of the equation is Jerusalem so he dedicated a whole paragraph. And by the way the letter is public it's a[n] open source you can see it, a whole paragraph on the US commitments to Jerusalem, that the U.S. will not recognize Israel's control or annexation of Jerusalem for that matter, the U.S. will not recognize the boundaries drawn by Israel around Jerusalem, and the U.S. will always be a mediator based on one premise that Jerusalem is a final status issue. On these promises we entered this 26 years old peace process.

Now we have seen other processes from the Madrid to Oslo to the roadmap and so forth many peace processes many initiatives not one not one was on the principles name me one, including Oslo, that was signed by the successive Israeli government starting from Rabin. Oslo listed very clearly on page one the principles that those principles are not up for negotiations. Oslo is about looking for an interim arrangement to reach that final destination that we agree on. So was the roadmap, and the roadmap was even more clearer than Oslo that was endorsed by Bush, George W. Bush administration, Bush jr. and was very clear about the sequence of implementation we were in the implementation side of the story. The roadmap was clear about the settlements, the illegality of the settlements, and that it must stop before the Palestinians even [inaudible] [10:58] in other areas.

During these 26 years since 1991 until the 6th of December 2017 the U.S. has played the role of the mediator. Allah, upon our acceptance in fact in some in some occasions our encouragement, we have kept that engagement with the U.S. despite the fact that the performance of the U.S. during these 26 years was dismal, dismal. Was not honest, could not bring itself to the level of an honest mediator and I'm not quoting myself here I may quote even some of the mediators themselves like Aaron David Miller who got it out I think in 2001 or two in an article if I remember correctly Washington Post saying that we are Israel's lawyer that's all what we do. Yet, yet and America was Israel's lawyer for all these years America would always start talking and negotiating with Israel. America would always present Israeli proposals, always. America will always find it easy to blame the victim. In all these major points of history it was easy to blame us, yet we kept firm in our engagement with America as the mediator. You know why because since 1991 until the 6th of December 2017 America did not change its policy. That, despite the dishonesty, was enough for us to continue the engagement.

Now, about our engagement with President Trump. I may throw very quickly a full and you allow me three major periods. The first is before the announcement because it's crucial that you know what was taking place before he ie President Trump announced his recognition of Jerusalem and moving the embassy. And then since the 6th of December, since the announcement, and what are the policy ramification of that and then I would dare to contemplate with you about our thinking and action visa vie the future. These are the three very quick sort of points I want to throw today.

You know, since the inauguration of President Trump in January and February there was a lot of anxiety many people were saying that oops there was no communication between the White House and the Palestinian Authority the Palestinian Liberation Organization the PLO the Palestinian President, and many people who are getting too excited about that especially right-wing Israeli writers government officials almost concluding that President Trump before even he starts any engagement has decided to cut ties with the Palestinians. That fallacy ended in March. I was there, I was next to President Abbas, I was still his strategic advisor he did not really commit that big mission to me by then to come to the U.S. When we received  a phone call from President Trump that phone call ended the speculations about the contacts and that phone call got three main messages in it.

The first message is that President Trump has been hearing great things about President Abbas from everybody, that he now believes that President Abbas is the man, is the statesman, is the one who actually has been committed and will be committed to a vision of peace. Second message he delivered to us on the phone that he also wants to make peace, that he has been watching this conflict since he was a child and that he thinks that it's senseless and it must end. To our absolute happy surprise we were hearing the conversation. He posed a question to our president and he said Mr. President I am going to intervene, I want to be a fair arbitrator, I want to bring an end to this, I want to present you, the region and the world with what I coined the ultimate deal, are you in he asked. Our President did not blink, he said yes Mr.President I am absolutely in this has been what I have been looking for for many many decades.

The third aspect of that phone conversation was do you accept my invitation to come to the White House Mr. President. I was sent two weeks after that conversation to prepare immediately for that visit by President Abbas. The visit happened on the 3rd of May 2015 [2017] and I am not going to court what happened in that visit, but it was absolutely a success in every sense. But aside all other issues, but as far as that engagement as far as the discussion, the commitments, the chemistry things were actually not bad. The instructions I received very clearly from my president, from my government that you must avail yourself completely, totally for positive engagement, be prepared, be ready, be available.

If you go back to all of our statements including mine up until the 6th of December you will see how much we have bought out there and the public in the political sphere that we see this as an opportunity. Despite all the worry, the concerns we see this as an opportunity. Our orientation is towards peace and if a U.S. president comes and says I want to make peace we are there for him as a partner. We met him again in Bethlehem, shortly after by the way, at the end of May and then again in New York in September, and then the three meetings I attended with the President President Mahmoud Abbas I tell you it was going from strength to strength from good to better. In the meeting in New York it was public he said that to the to the media when we were sitting there before they left I mean the media he said I will give my heart and my soul to achieve the ultimate deal.

Now, during all this engagement up until couple of days before the 6th of December President Trump and his team would tell us that they are the ones they would promise us they are on it and we would be telling them two things, just to summarize for you all the discussions and in honesty. The first thing we would be telling them is that it is absolutely paramount, crucial Mr. President ie President Trump that you stay on the long-held US policy. Abandoning the two-state solution is very dangerous, that the starting point for any mediator or arbitrator even in the business world has to start with a terms of reference, with a very clear-cut reference point. And the two-state solution did not come we were saying because it's a Palestinian demand this two-state solution came because it was an international demand, and it was a Palestinian offer. So don't think that this is our demand. During these few months, count from March until November, we met his team tens of times we lost count. From the very first meeting President Trump said I'm ready to start negotiations between you the Palestinians and the American side so we prepare.

Since we met in Bethlehem there was a decision that we actually sit around a table, the American team and the Palestinian team, and discuss how do we move forward some of [inaudible] [20:08] ideas they may have. And we since May have been literally nagging for this to happen with no success. So when I hear that the Palestinians walked away from negotiations I just pause, I just pause. It was us for all these months in every meeting in every encounter saying that we're ready, we're ready don't waste another day, don't waste another week we've wasted enough time what are you waiting for. In fact the ones who blocked any real talks with the American side at least is the American side itself and we don't understand then why but now we do.

Now let's let's move very quickly to the period why did we commit and continue engaging if there was no commitment to the two-state solution on 1967. If there was no such a clear terms of reference why did we continue engaging in the first place, because every time we asked the administration this question they will tell us we do not want to impose on any side, we do not want to to dictate. And we were saying okay down the line give it a month give it two give it three give it five down the line we will be able to continue arguing the international consensus and we will convince this administration that there is no other option but a two-state solution on the 1967 borders with all the international contours and international resolutions.

Effectively the 6th, and forget about the narratives I'm not gonna even touch the narratives or the emotions or what Vice President Pence said that misreading and misrepresentation of reality that one thing to re in react or reenact is that a term Paul reenact the world as it was 3,000 years ago and God knows if the world that was 3,000 years ago is exactly as in Pence's head. Imagine, imagine if we are attempting to redraw the world 3,000 years ago. And by the way there is a lot to be discussed and contested about what was the world that where was the world 3,000 years ago. I'm not gonna engage in all that we have to keep set on policy the decision the announcement by President Trump had three major ramifications, consequences, impacts.

First, that was the goodbye kiss for the long-held U.S. policy. That set our hope for a return soon to the long-held U.S. policy with the with the UN Security Council resolutions, with a two-state solution on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem occupied and the capital of the future state of Palestine, with the settlement being illegitimate and the major obstacle and must stop and be dismantle that was the goodbye kiss, is that an English term as well, it's over. We were hoping of our return to the long held U.S. policy anybody of us who were hoping so that 6th of December simply dashed that hope.

Second, President Trump reneged not only on the long held U.S. and international policy, but reneged on his own promises, his own promises, I did not endorse the two-state solution because I do not want to impose, I do not want to dictate, I do not want to influence I do not want to tell the two sides what to do. Then you come all of a sudden and you decide to take the heart of the two-state solution out, the core of all issues, the mother of all issues Jerusalem unilaterally on your own without even even having the respect of international relations to even consult with any party. Surprisingly you turn, backstabbing, then you have reneged on your own promise, then it doesn't make sense neither your promise about not announcing the two-state solution because you don't want to dictate, nor you don't want to dictate.

The third aspect of President Trump, he said it again today in Davos which is simply pre determining the outcome of negotiations. He said it in his tweet, he said it today, Vice President Pence said it in the Knesset, he said it in an interview before it that what's the big deal, now we have taken Jerusalem off the table we can talk to the Palestinians and we can talk to the Arabs. Good, excellent. And by the way there are attempts to take refugees of the table attacking UNRWA was not financial let me confirm this is not a financial issue this is what Netanyahu keeps saying UNRWA perpetuates the issue of refugees, so Netanyahu and his cause here the pressure thinking by dismantling UNRWA you would dismantle the rights of six, seven million people. A fallacy.

Now I'd like to mention what President Trump said today in Davos and it's primarily four things, and then I move to the future.

The first thing is that aid will be cut to the Palestinians. Let me say this to President Trump and to the administration our rights are not for sale and this is not rhetorical, this is real this has been tried so many times. When the trade-off is between legitimate birth rights of dignity, of freedom, of one's right to access his own land or resources, of one's right to be unified with his family, money comes number twenty. The world must understand that equation. And if the choice which is unfair, unprecedented, illegal, immoral is between starving the people of Palestine and surrendering the rights I tell you the people of Palestine will definitely not choose the option of succumbing to this unacceptable pressure. Live with it, money does not work, financial pressure and blackmail does not work when it comes to national rights, human rights, very basic individual rights it doesn't work it actually aggravates your dignity and your respect of yourself.

Number two, Jerusalem is off the table he says, well, we want to tell him President Trump you did not Jerusalem off the table you took the table altogether. No Palestinian will ever sit on such a team read my lips. And then that the Palestinians must come back to negotiations what negotiations what negotiations, I want somebody to look me in the eye and tell me what negotiations are we talking about. When was there an invitation for negotiations that we rejected, in fact for all the last even many years we have been trying to reengage with the absolute clear rejection by Netanyahu. What negotiations. It's a movie we have seen so many times it's almost like a ready statement, you know, it's ready regardless of reality accuracy what happened the Palestinians walked away, the Palestinians don't want to renegotiate, the Palestinians wants the whole land, the Palestinians wants the whole land when the ruling party of Israel takes a decision to annex the West Bank the Palestinians wants the whole land.

When the PLO Central Council convenes only few days ago, couple of weeks ago, after that earthquake and still confirms the two-state solution, the Palestinians wants the whole land. When the Knesset approves by that eighty members should approve any negotiations in Jerusalem which is an impossibility by the way. You know Oslo passed by 61 votes if some of you remember. Then you start the blame game about the Palestinians, fine, if it's a blame game bring it on bring it on, we have been there so many times it's a boring movie this will not move us anywhere in any direction. It's better be a different game that we were hoping about and for.

And the last thing he said, President Trump is that he's doing that because we the Palestinians disrespected the U.S., no Mr. President, no, we did not disrespect anyone, we only respected, we respected ourselves, we respected our rights, we respected our dignity, we heeded and respected our people and it is our people that we are answerable for not anybody else, the people of Palestine, the millions who have been waiting there for a chance for peace, the millions who wanted to see their kids have a different future, the millions who have bought up an Intifada after another trying to attract the attention of the world, those millions are the people we are answerable to and we will respect them. We are answerable to them, they are our constituency and guess what we have constituencies and we have politics and we have public opinion.

We have respected the long-held U.S. policy, we have respected the international consensus, we have respected the majority of the American people because even according to CNN and according to all the polls the majority of the American people, the bigger number of the American people, are against the Jerusalem announcement. We did not do any disrespect Mr. President, and I'm not going to say who has done the disrespect. We are not the strongest of nations, but we are held proud as a nation, proud, rooted, we know our rights we know our limitations and we we know when to stand collectively and say no.

Now, I'd like to very quickly go to the future and end here. Those who pushed for the Jerusalem announcement, and we see Netanyahu's fingers all over, look at him in the Knesset look at look at him in Davos, he has a sense of triumphant, victorious, and I tell you we don't understand victorious and triumphant for what exactly. For killing the only possible solution, for pushing us to the Armageddon, and the religious fight, for turning the situation from a political legal one about collective rights that could be resolved to a and a full-fledged apartheid that's what he feels triumphant about, but his fingers are all over this for three reasons, and regardless who he has used to pressure for this.

The first reason is that Prime Minister Netanyahu wanted desperately, immediately to preempt President Trump,preempt, even a discussion for Netanyahu and his coalition about a possible peace deal is not tolerable they cannot tolerate it. Go see the coalition and you will know the coalition will fall instantly if they even accept sitting on a political table.

The second objective is to fire, fire that lethal bullet at the very heart of the two-state solution. Netanyahu knows that Jerusalem is the heart of the two-state solution, if you want to kill it aim there, aim there. And Netanyahu is not just in private conversations he’s public about the two-state solution.

I think this government sees the two-state solution, the international contours, the consensus all that we have known to be an existential threat for the Israel they want, the Israel, they know you want to kill it. The third objective is to destroy the growing Palestinian American relations, I mean it is growing. The public opinion of this country, the youth of the of this country, the Congress of this country, the intelligence of this country, the Jewish community of this country, things are changing.

Netanyahu can go and speak at the Congress but I bet you if he can go and speak at a university in California or Wisconsin, he knows that and he wanted to insert anxiety, poison, suspicion in the body of that growing relationship between us and America, and here will be our response. We have historically two-dimension of our relationship with America. The peacemaking triangular and the relationship triangular two triangles.

The first triangle is the peacemaking it was America mediating with us the Palestinians and Israelis, this is the first triangle for many years. The first side of the triangle America it should have been American lead international but slowly slowly it has become just America primarily. In that triangle triangle that has been there for 26 years in that triangle today we don't see except one side and we say it with full mouth convinced without blinking we are the last remaining of the triangle that still supports the vision of the two-state solution, of international consensus, of international resolutions.

No one can look us in the eye now and tell us that the current Israeli government that has been there for many years is supporting the two solution no one that side has collapsed long ago but we have been burying our heads in the sand they are not interested. You are talking to people who are going in a different direction by deeds not my words. Look at the settlement expansion, the colonial settlement expansion, and you will know, and look at all not only the Knesset resolution about Jerusalem, not only the Likud's resolution on annexing the West Bank, not major settlements which is the West Bank, primarily, not only that; visit what has been taking place in the legislation and the government decisions in taking a decision to actually exercise the death penalty on Palestinians all are going in that direction of refusing the two-state solution.

The second triangle the U.S. was with us until the 6th of December, it's no longer there. What is our policy for the future, we need to strengthen the last remaining side, that is the Palestinian side, we are not going to change course. Even if we are the Last Samurai we believe that international resolutions has not come for no reasons it has been a result of many decades of suffering and blood on the both sides and we want to clench into our vision of a solution based on the 1967 borders and resolving all our legitimate issues including the issue of refugees the right of return according to international [inaudible] [36:56].

We also want to keep our commitments, especially in the arena of   
democracy, and there is a lot of work some setbacks but I think the reconciliation process is still going with so many difficulties, but I have news for you we are not going to budge on this no matter how difficult it is and we are hoping that 2018 will see Palestinian national elections. There was a decision in Cairo between all the factions to convene elections by the end of 2018. And we will not change our commitments of our institutions no one leading this fight will dissolve itself we are dissolving nothing we are building and we will continue building. And we will keep our commitment to nonviolence that is now not only political, its religious. And we will be the last clenching an international legitimacy and international resolution.

Yes there are 86 UN Security Council resolution on Israel Palestine unimplemented, 86, all calls for Israel to withdraw from the territories it occupied, all calls for the settlements to cease its illegal including one that passed only one year ago, December 2016, 2334 clear-cut. The one thing we need to do however is redefining our relationship with Israel, it's going to take time, but we can no longer we can no longer accept the logic that our engagement with the current Israeli government is really leading us into a solution. We have to redefine our relationship in every sphere, not in a reactionary way, but in a way that will take us into a different place.

Today the status quo is very comfortable for the occupier, in every sense. And I'm not gonna quote the council the PLO council resolution about conditioning our recognition of Israel to that of a reciprocal recognition, about ending the interim arrangement given that Israel is not respecting any of it, about all the issues that was listed without quoting them I am short of time because I want to very quickly end with talking about the second triangle which our relationship with America. It has a bilateral component our relationship with America alone and separate of anything else you know there is a relationship it's historic, and it has been a very strategic relationship a great deal of investments, skin, the U.S. skin has been in this and our skin.

The second component is the trilateral relationship ie. America and Palestinians and Israelis and the third component  is the multilateral ie: America’s contribution to UNRWA, America’s voting in the UN, all that.  While we see the trilateral now to be off the table, that’s the only thing off the table.  We are keen, to not only, maintain the bilateral and salvage the multilateral, but strengthen them.  I have very clear instructions by the president, my president, President Abbas and by the leadership to double our efforts in the bilateral side, to partner with all the American representatives, to extend hands to go in every university, every think tank, to correspond with the media, to really tap into opportunities and correct the bilateral relationship because without correcting the bilateral relationship, we will have no hope for a trilateral [relationship] or anything else.  Correcting the bilateral relationship have to mean...has to mean that we have to revisit the Congress resolutions, in no way we can accept that the PLO remains to be a terrorist organization since 1987, we signed Oslo, we have bilateral agreements with the U.S., the U.S. pays sometimes even up tp 700 million dollars to a terrorist organization, Israel recognized the PLO formally by writing and the U.S. still calls this long untouched law that provides the basis for so many attachment[s] like the ICC law like so many other[s] needs to be revisited this is an opportunity to put the bilateral relationship on its right feet, or foot, and to start the real process of either removing Israel Palestine as a domestic issue in America, or at  least put Palestine as a domestic in Palestine...in America, one of both, but just to keep Israel as a domestic issue and we, a foreign policy issue that balance did not work for 26 years.  Allow me Paul for one last sentence, yes, I said that Netanyahu looks very triumphant I have news for him, Jerusalem is not going anywhere and it’s not united and it will never be united, or unified, there are 380,000 Palestinians who owns every street, every church, every mosque, every home, every school. This is not a matter of claim, this is a matter of ownership and I just visited Jerusalem [a] couple of weeks ago and still speaks Arabic with a beautiful Palestinian accent by the way, the only thing that changed is people...people’s resilience, shining of its identity and resilience so. Mr. Netanyahu, don’t overreach, don’t over celebrate.  I also have a news for you, we are there, and we will be there.  That is the only promise we have for Netanyahu and for everyone else: we are there, ancient we are linked to our land we are, but, Mr. Netanyahu, you will not find any partner for this twisted logic of yours and all those who tell you that you may find partners in the Arab world, I want one Arab leader to come and look us in the eye and tell us that they represent the people of Palestine the Arab people support the people of Palestine, and they have historically supported the people..people of Palestine, or Netanyahu give me in the eye...look me in the eye and say that the international community will forgo, will push the Palestinians under the bus, look what happened only two weeks ago, all your fallacies about being the king of Africa, the king of the international community, your...your overestimated, exaggerated hinting about relations with the Arab world means [pause] nothing except that you and the whole course of action now is absolutely delusional and is going to take us either to the religious war or to the apartheid that will see a civil movement in our in our side that call for the right of everybody to be equal under one-state arrangement, thank you. [Applause]

Salem:    Well, Ambassador Zomlot, that was a very eloquent and a very clear and very well-organized presentation and I'm sure we all thank you for that, you've...you've clarified many, many important points, I will also say you are a wonderful representative for the Palestinian people. I'm just gonna ask a couple of questions because time is short and then we will go to the audience, so please prepare your questions.  There's...I want to ask about whether there was, among the U.S. negotiators you met with, at any point a plan B that they were floating either directly or indirectly.  We hear about that and that there was an attempt to float an idea of a different two-state solution capital of Abu Dis, forget Jerusalem, is there any reality to that?   You didn't mention it, you mentioned sort of a very positive progress in the early months of the Trump administration, and then a sudden decision of December 6, is there anything that we're missing in that story?

Amb. Zomlot:    I will give you the longer answer; no.  [laughter] That's a longer answer, really.

Salem:    That it was not…?

Amb. Zomlot:    No there, was no plan A to start with to have even engaged in a plan, there was no...the only time that I was quoted without my consent is a brief with the U.S. media in August and the Washington Post quoted me saying, that was as early as August, I don't know where the hell they're going and then that caused a great deal of...no there was no plan A, there was no plan B. The only thing we were discussing is an ultimate deal that soon will see the parties engaged with the U.S. to try and shape it neither we engaged to shape it nor we had anything substantial.

Salem:    Let me ask, you mentioned a bit at the end, the word about, sort of a living together in one state, what sometimes called the one-state solution.  You also hinted towards the end, and I know that time was short, that you have to figure out a way how to deal with Israel engage since there really isn't a peace process towards a two-state solution.  You also mentioned that in the relationship with the US there's a relationship with this government, but there's also the bilateral relationship with...with people and the society and the universities and so on.   I want to ask about the Palestinians relationship with Israel, with Israelis, other aspects of Israeli society, any idea if it's not a two-state solution, what is the path forward for Palestinians approach to Israel and Israelis?

Amb. Zomlot:    Remember the triangular a was talking about, and I...I only had time to talk about our own commitment and work in that triangle because we have to work it up again to create another triangle, but the triangle now needs us to realize that the current government cannot be [a] partner and therefore we have to go straight to the people in Israel, and this is exactly one of the major policy instructions the president gave in the PLO central council, publicly.  It's very unfortunate that people...people somewhere in [inaudible] [47:50] Idumaean, perhaps, were translating some of the words, many were lost in translation, but the key components of a speech were absolutely a statesmanship in it.  He said that we must rebuild that side of the triangle by engaging directly the Israeli peace camp, all those who see a different tomorrow and want to see a different tomorrow, all those who believe that peace is possible, and I think, not only I think, he gave instructions live, on TV, to key leaders in the council including the head of the PLO committee to engage the Israeli society, by the name of Hamad al-Madani, he named him in the council in that public speech and he said you [inaudible] [48:27] your efforts, you go you have the legitimacy and the support of this house, the support of the leadership, that was also legitimizing the work of that committee and giving it a national political support and cover, because you know how complicated the the matter is, so yes--we realize we have to engage the Israeli public much more, and there are so many opportunities and you know the Israeli public, we saw the demonstrations against Netanyahu recently in the last few months and weeks about the corruption charges and all that and many Israelis are fed up with this style of governance, yet I have to say it's not easy and we have to find that power and that ability.  On the one hand, the current status quo the occupation freakish control mechanisms, is there, not only to separate Palestinians from Palestinians, but a key component of the wall and the checkpoints is to separate Israelis from Palestinians.  Try if you have an Israeli citizen to come and visit Ramallah. Try! Oh my God, it's your...your...your situation will be even difficult than a Palestinian who'd sneak into Israel.  There is such a blockage, this is the first real issue, the second issue, rightly so, and we have to find a solution the Palestinian society have seen some of these interactions to be [a] normalization of an illegal abnormal situation rather than engagement and we have to find a way to convince ourselves and our people, that there is a clear line between engagement, between affecting the public opinion, partnering with forces of peace, and between normalizing the occupation.  This is a job we haven't done and we have to do, but that's not gonna be easy.  What was the other question?

Salem:    [Inaudible] [50:04] ...that was the question. I have another question, you mentioned that you hope, or expect, or promise that there will be Palestinian elections at the end of 2018 and I want to ask you, obviously, divisions within the Palestinian house have been a problem for the Palestinians and for the cause of the peace process, I would say in some sense, issues of governance itself, whether on the West Bank and others and the future of President Abbas or the presidency, so...tell us a bit about how you see the future of the Palestinian house as it were you mentioned it, and also since you did mention Egypt, if you would mention how you see currently the relationship between the Palestinians and their Arab partners, friends, you mentioned Egypt, could you mention Saudi Arabia, Jordan, any other players that have been active?

Amb. Zomlot:    I did not mention Egypt, I mentioned Netanyahu's fallacies about the region, but the relationship between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and what have you and the issue of Palestine goes beyond politics, by the way, Paul nobody knows this more than you, goes beyond politics and you know for us and Egypt it's not just a matter of borders, it's...it's also a matter of [a] national security doctrine, I mean, for us and Jordan.  Without a state of Palestine and I can’t speak on behalf of Egypt and [inaudible] [51:25] Egyptian diplomats very senior and my friends, for Egypt the establishment of a state of Palestine, with Gaza linked to the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the capital, is an Egyptian strategic interest it’s not just a popular support and historic support it's the national interest of Egypt and more so it's the national interest of Jordan and the rest of the region, particularly Saudi Arabia, would...would be more keen on making sure that the minimum bare genetic Arab definition of themselves and their identities are going to be protected, I mean, Jerusalem is not a Palestinian issue, so, there is a lot of exaggeration, and there is a lot of misinformation, and there is a lot of attempts, and I think...I think primarily, by the Netanyahu coup, and he keeps talking about it, because he wants to convey the message to the Palestinians first and foremost that; you are alone, so, you are weak and accept whatever comes your way to the U.S. administration; don't worry the Arabs are on our back and they are supporting us.  Most of it is false, we are not saying there are no communication[s], we're not saying that, perhaps, there were some even individuals who may think that there are opportunities here, common threats there, you know the whole situation, but that does not substitute the fact that the Arab world could do whatever except lacking its real support for such a righteous issue that has defined the Arab identity for generations and regardless of what Netanyahu dreams of, will continue to you know drive the identity, the belongings, the...the political conscious of the generations to come.

Salem:    Thank you Husam. I'm sure there's a lot of questions, let me start with the gentleman in the fifth row.  Yes, you sir.  Stand up so the microphone can come your way, introduce yourself and a brief question or comment.

Said Arikat:    My name is Said Arikat, I'm a Palestinian journalist here in town.  I'm not surprised, Mr. Ambassador, by the...the conduct, the current conduct of this administration it was enshrined in the republican national platform, in the nominating convention, so, that doesn't come as a surprise to me, they talked about Jerusalem, they talked about Israel's right to settle, and so on.  My question to you, you know, looking at all this...this current difficulties that you face and you know the freezing of relations between you and the United States and so on, what are the alternatives?  Has the time come basically to scale back the the current Palestinian Authority?  Perhaps, look at an alternative of a state under occupation for instance of the United Nation and so on, where it would give you you know some...some sort of elbow room away from the hegemony of the United States?

Salem:    Thank you.  Let's take a couple more questions, lady there on the under the lamp.

Rachel Oswald:    Hi, thank you, Rachel Oswald, Congressional Quarterly.  Ambassador, what role do you see the U.S. Congress as having in this?  At this moment there are bills moving forward that would cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority over the payments to prisoners families and such.  Has the Congress any room to play a positive role do you think, given... given the historical trajectory of the Congress?

Salem:    Thank you, the lady in the second row.  There are a lot of fingers up.

Amb. Zomlot:    Good.

Nina Larson:    Thanks, Mr. Ambassador, Nina Larsen, 24 News.  Can I ask you what role you hope the United Nations might play in your bid for statehood?  There are some media reports at the moment [stating] that the Arab League is considering presenting a resolution either to the Security Council or to the wider great General Assembly that would declare a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. And if I could just ask a second one, the U.S. seems to have removed itself from being a[n] impartial interlocutor are there any other nations that could step into that gap there?

Salem:            Thank you. The gentlemen to your left, there yes.

Jerome Segal:    Hi I'm Jerome Segall [inaudible] [55:36] so, I wanted to ask you about what I see is that the central strategic dilemma that I think you skirted around but you didn't really face.  You talked and it makes great sense about going to the American people and going to the Israeli people and the thing to link that with I think is what John Kerry was reported as saying in his conversations with Hussein Agha just the other day, which is that Kerry proposed that the Palestinians should come forward as I understood his proposal with a full scale now parameters but a full-scale draft peace treaty that it was prepared to say yes to and of course if it did that that would be the vehicle for moving the Israeli people and the American people.   But I spoke to Husan...Hussain on the phone last night, I'm not...I don't think I'm giving away any secret, which I said, “Look this seems to me a non-starter because if you put forward the kind of moderate proposal and ultimately you'd be paired prepare to accept it would just be to come the starting point for new concessions whenever negotiations got started,” and he said, “Yeah, of course that's the case.” So, the question to you, is really; how do you resolve this, is there some vehicle whereby in some way the Palestinians, through the PLO, or the state of Palestine, can actually say yes to something that is unambiguous not p... parameters not API and so on, but something closer to the Geneva initiative, a hundred pages, where I would say yes to something and then it would bring that to the Israeli and the people and the Palestinian people and use that again and again and again, until finally what would happen is that you win quickly and the majority of both people's, but how can you bring that about, what's the instrument?

Salem:    Thank you. Husam let’s attempt answers.

Amb. Zomlot:    Can I start from Jerome's question? Because it's fresh and it's crucial I think it's it is strategic. Jerome, for so many years whenever there is a failure in the part of the mediator, 26 years, or in the part of the major occupier in control of everything, Israel, the world comes back and tell...the good guys tell us what you just said, “why don't you guys initiate?” and the bad guys just blame us, so, it's the easy game to blame the Palestinians for all the failure.  I'll say this, our initiative is the initiative of the international community.  I said it before that this was not a Palestinian initiative, this was a Palestinian acceptance, and that acceptance created a national equilibrium.  If you play with that national equilibrium now, and then you want to turn it back to the Palestinian people to come up with an initiative, there will be two kinds. Either none of them will go beyond...below the international concerns; none.  The acceptance of the international consensus, the international requirements, the international consensus the international...even you know, let's say, resolutions, was seen to be a compromise rather than a demand or an initiative, a compromise, painful, but it created an equilibrium.  If you touch it, and this is what the Israeli successive governments have failed to understand, and with them the successive view of the U.S. administrations, they always thought they could meet us somewhere between Jerusalem and Jericho ie: the starting point is international law, international resolution, wasn't a compromise it wasn't that the Palestinians forego 78% of our land,  it was a starting point for where we can actually grab more land.  The Israeli left, center left, were under the one impression, title, logic, that what is mine; is mine and what is yours; is negotiable, that's the left, and we have tried to negotiate with the left and telling them there is nothing left to negotiate this is the bone, the ‘67 issue is the bone, we will be flexible, a little bit here, and there but it's the bone.  Run with it!  The Israeli right are much more frank, what is ours, is ours, and what is yours is also ours, there's no even negotiation in this.  Why I'm saying this?  If you want a genuine, genuine, real Palestinian offer, demand, either it will have Jaffa in it, because the UN secured, the UN General Assembly partition plan that created Israel which is the only birth certificate, only legitimate paper for Israel nothing else gave Jaffa to the Palestinians, by the way, so it's not an illegitimate demand, or the rest would be for the false one-state solution equal rights.  There will not be a Palestinian initiative about the two-state solution as we know it or less of the two-state solution as we know it and that's why we are telling the world, strategically; run with it!  Run with it!  And that's why, I think Netanyahu's sense of celebration is so absolutely delusional.  Delusional.  Him pushing the acceleration of a car that much, the overreach, take Jerusalem off, take refugees off, take, take, take, he thinks that car is going anywhere, he thinks that car has a road to travel on, has directions and the road and signs to read anywhere--that car is going to crash!  That car is on a suicidal mission, and I'm saying this from my heart now, Jerome, because it's about time that we stop thinking that the Palestinians can always be the ones who can actually turn around and create a different atmosphere by chipping a bit more of their rights [inaudible] [1:01:40], it's over, enough we have done this business for a long time, and I tell you if there is any sense of strategic direction and if the people of Israel will remember Netanyahu in 20, 30 years time, they will remember him the way I say it now, that he was the person who killed one opportunity that was the best for Israel at the time, and now a generation later, they are left with options that are way worse for them than the current available option.  The question about international, what do mean Said, you know state under occupation international mechanism, you know Paul was looking at me, I took my time in my introduction, I couldn't elaborate.  For many, many, years we have been saying, “We want [an] international table, we need [an] international mechanism.” You know, even recently, only a year and something ago we were behind the French initiative, not only because we are in love with France, but because France invited an international audience including secretary Kerry, by the way.  So, why are we saying that we want [an] international mechanism?  For the following reasons; the first is that, because give me one conflict worldwide historically that was resolved not by [an] international mechanism.  Give me one, where was it?  Kosovo? East Timor? Iran?  You know why the Iranian deal is still holding until today? Because it's not bilateral, because it's multilateral.  We were made the exception for all these years, for all these decades.  Everything is multilateral.  Whenever there is a conflict it has to be resolved by the international community, except one place; Israel Palestine.  “Only the two sides can resolve it,” said who?  Said who?  When you have such asymmetry of power, when [the] President of the United States stands in the White House and say[s], “If the two sides want a two-state solution,” he means if Netanyahu, because we want, we want a two-state solution.  Which means you give the veto power to your occupier and that's it, the game has been unfolding in front of your eyes for 26 years, quadrupling of the Israeli colonies, quadrupling the erosion of the very vision, a process that was established to prevent the outcome.  Oslo; to prevent the outcome, was going in the very opposite direction.  So what do we do?  You are asking me Said, now, a very legitimate question; who is going to take over?  Who is going to accept this?  Well, we need to do the following: number one; we need to end the exception...exceptionalism to start with.  Let it take a year, Said, let it take two, three, five.  We must work hard to end this exceptionalism, we are no different.  We need the world, we need international legitimacy, we need international sense, we need international politics, we need international guarantees, not only for the security of Israel our security is also [in]fringed upon.  Number two; quote that Said, please, no...no process is better than a bad process, and no agreement is a better than a bad agreement.  Are we clear here?  So, even if this means no process, it's better for us, given what we are smelling around and sniffing.  So, we can afford to build a real international concern.  Are we arguing that the world is not with us?  No, the world is with us, my friends.  The world is with us. I..I received a European Union delegation only yesterday in my office.  I heard from them about the meetings my president had in Brussels, only this week.  You all heard Mogherini representing the European Union about how clear firm committed the European Union is, and Europe matters and, by the way, we border Europe not America.  You know there are only 40 kilometers between the shores of Israel and Palestine and Cyprus, which is a European Union [state].  If you are really fit you can swim it.  You know once [some]one said, “What do you say of Rabin's wish that the Gaza and the people of Gaza will be washed in the sea?”  I said, “They will swim back.  You don't know the Gazans.  I know them, I was born there.  They will just swim back, they are going nowhere.”  But Europe is the biggest trade their partner with Israel, it's not America.  And Europe is the biggest donor to the Palestinian Authority, it's not America.  You know what, Said, America is one of the smallest contributors to the [inaudible] [1:06:38].  How is that?  The leverage of Europe is huge and unused, and Europe's responsibility of the conflict is all over, from the British role in this and the Balfour Declaration, all the way to recent history.  And yes, the rest of the world matters, Russia matters, China matters, South Africa matters, Brazil matters, Germany matters.  Why did the world create the P5+1?  Because you need international players to sustain some international equilibrium.  If we leave this process at the will of the two sides, only mediated by the current reality of the U.S., I don't think we have a chance of going anywhere.  The last question was about the U.S. Congress and the Arab League.  The U.S. Congress you know it...it puzzled me.  When I first arrived only in April, 7, 8 months ago and I started finding out all set...all [the] set[s] of laws, resolutions, that were taken against the Palestinians, I...you know, I knew that the 1987 resolution was not, has not been reversed, that the PLO is a terrorist organization, but then when I started some of the text of the...of the amendments that were introduced like; the ICC law, if the Palestinian, the PLO or the PA, take any steps or encourages, go I don't know what encourages means, yeah maybe I'm sitting here now with Paul like my president was in the UN General Assembly and one of my [inaudible] [1:08:28] would be encourages, it's not legal language, encourages going to the ICC, their office in Washington would be closed.  It was almost closed, by the way, as you may remember and their office will only open if the U.S. administration, the U.S. president certifies that the Palestinians have entered with an [inaudible] [1:08:20] not entering or about to enter have entered into negotiations with Israel, that's the law.  So, effectively, the law says that the veto power of a bilateral relationship, that has hundreds of bilateral agreements, that has so much investment in it, is at the whim of Tel Aviv.  Is this logical?  This...does this provide any…[inaudible] [1:09:17]. We have boxed ourselve[s], this is boxing the U.S. before boxing anybody, and don't get me started, please, because I should maintain some sort of sanity and I'm not sure if I am capable to do anymore...anymore, but the tailor[ed]-force and the whole issue of the payment, this program has been there for 50 years.  This program is one of the most effective programs for political, security, [and] social reasons.  The conviction rates in the Israeli military courts is what...99%?  I don't know the exact number, frankly, but it's above 95%.  People are rounded [up], there are so many people who are there without charges, for years under the administrative detention.  400 children are Israel[i]...400 are Israelis, including Ahed Tamimi that you saw right live on your TV sets.  And Ahed is not even the youngest child there are 12 years old interrogated.  The majority, according to UN reports, the majority of people who are killed in this conflict, are innocent victims.  Who cares for their families?  Who takes over after their breadwinner is buried 6 feet under the…, we don't pay for the people who are killed, you know that, we don't pay for the people who are rounded [up] they are behind bars.  We pay for the kids, to provide for them a different future, to be able to buy a small laptop so they learn how to craft a different and better future, and we will not budge about that.  Our commitment[s] to those people are firm, let the Congress discuss whatever they want, whatever they want.  I landed here and that was the whole discussion, and I met all the leaders of the Congress, ...in the Senate and in the house, including the key people who are drafting this, and pushing for this, and we said, “You are misinformed.”  This is a Netanyahu fight to derail, deviate, distract.  This is the old movie, it's boring. That the Palestinians aid terrorism, we don't.  Listen to your own establishment and security apparatus, America, we don't.  This is...the timing of it is to derail even the Trump beginning of thinking about a peace agreement.  Don't heed this political, you know, devious agendas.  And even if there was a mistake committed, an issue happened, with an...with an American citizen in...in that unfortunate situation, regrettable, condemned, that was killed, you propose a bill to cut all aid on an entire situation of stability so the Congress for many years was never the solution.  The Congress for many years was actually the problem.  And to tell you the truth, we see opportunities now that things have become very clear to the Congress, that all these resolutions have been triggered, they are being being triggered, and they will be causing a lot of damage.  Hoping, we are hoping, that this will create a different engagement with the Congress, believe you me, without the Congress being in full support of the U.S. long-held policy of a two-state solution under 1967, the U.S. cannot continue on that path, and you are right we are also to blame the Palestinians for not engaging the Congress more, for not engaging the public more, and we intend to do just that.  The question I'm sorry I went... about the Arab League, yes, there are there are decisions by the discussion there is a special committee that was formed by the Arab League, foreign ministers of that committee are convening, several options are on the table, one of which is going to the Security Council to actually attain the full membership for Palestine as a state and for moving forward the Arab thinking now, the Arab League thinking, is that we need the Security Council as the multilateral forum and even if the U.S. continues to veto that, we should always refer and revert to multilateralism.  Remember, the U.S. did veto our resolution just before the General Assembly, right, but it's crucial for us that 14 hands raised and only the hand of the U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley's alone, among its her own allies Britain France, and what have you, so even if that door is not open, we will try to open it again.  What are possible roles for [inaudible] [1:14:12] we don't want to replace, we do not want to replace the U.S. with...with Europe, we do not want to replace the U.S. with China, or Russia, or Africa, South Africa.  We do not want to replace the U.S. with another...with another one player.  We want to replace the old process with a multilateral process, where everyone is on the table, everyone on the table and everyone contributes according to very clear-cut international line[s] and everybody contributes according to international obligations.  The U.S. payment, the U.S. contribution for the last 50 years to UNRWA is not a bilateral issue, they are not paying to the Palestinian Authority, this is the U.S. international obligation the U.S. participated in shaping and endorsing the the resolution that formed UNRWA in the first place, so, we are not talking about a substitution of a country to another country, we are talking about a substitution of a method, of a mechanism, of a framework, and that framework has to become multilateral, no mat.. no matter how long it takes.

Audience Member:    I’m just gonna reply, will your first stop for that be the United Nations? For this new mechanism, will your first stop be the United Nations?  Is that where you’re going to start?

Amb. Zomlot:    Yes, our first stop is to start where we should always start; the United Nations Security Council was established to do with one mandate, to look into issues like ours, that's the mandate. And to sustain international peace and security. We will knock the legitimate door.  President Abbas said something very interesting and should be quoted everywhere only in the council, in the PLO Council, central council, that all options for us, the Palestinians, [are] on the table except one option; violence. I don't think the UN Security Council is the Mafia, I know some people consider it in these days to be the Mafia, but it's not the Mafia.  So we will knock the first legitimate door and then we'll see other doors if it's closed.

Salem:     Thank you, we're out of time, but I will take two questions. I know there's many more.  I'll take the gentlemen in the fourth...fourth row unfortunately, right behind you sir.

Peter Humphrey:    Peter Humphrey, intelligence analyst and a former diplomat.  We have two embassies in Rome, one to the Italian government and the other to the Vatican.  It seems Palestinians are incapable of recognizing the possibility that we may someday have two embassies in Jerusalem.  That's...that's even probable, so why the rioting? Why the international outrage, when that's still very much a possibility?

Salem:    Thank you and the gentleman right in front of you.

Asaf Ashar:    Asaf Ashar, Israeli [inaudible] [1:16:56] Club. You were focusing on Jerusalem, I understood that President Abbas was agreeing to take Abu Dis as a future capital of the Palestinian with a corridor to Al-Aqsa. You started to build the parliament buildings, fifty million dollars, and you have a university there, if I remember, Al-Qud University, what is the change?

Salem:    Thank you and very quick responses, Mr. Ambassador because we’re out of time.

Amb. Zomlot:    I’ll start from the last, what changes is that this has never happened.  Absolutely never happened, this is a lie that you have heard from sources that want you to believe that lie, not President Abbas, not president late president Yasser Arafat, not any future president can accept any capital except East Jerusalem.  Read my lips, please, read my lips not because we want to be maximalist, but because we want to point clearly to where the future can be found. East...East Jerusalem...East Jerusalem for us, the Palestinians, is not a matter of real state that links to the other question about two embassies.  It's not a matter of real state, East Jerusalem for us is our national hub in every sense in the political, in the cultural, in the identity, and you know what, most of our theaters are in East Jerusalem until this moment.  And it is our also religious hub, and religion is crucial, the connection of hundreds of million...millions of people, so, that would never happen, and it will never happen.  For your question, the other question about two embassies, was...what was the question..the two embassies and why...the whole deal...you know, just after, minutes after the announcement, I was reading all over articles that the Palestinians should actually, were wrong, they should take the the half full of the glass, they should have been positive, they should have taken from President Trump that he will not change any negotiation and that the issue of borders and sovereignty would be determined by the two parties and should have actually celebrated that and embarrassed Netanyahu.  That was the advice to us.  Do you think after the what you heard today in Davos, and what you hear what you saw in that tweet of Presidents Trump, it was really about leaving it to negotiation, or taking it off negotiation?  You want to hear from commentators and analysts, or from the man who declared?  It was obvious for us, that was taking Jerusalem off.  It was off, the obvious.  What was next is refugees and God knows, by the way, what else.  As for the two embassies, after reaching an agreement, we don't mind having two embassies, but before reaching an agreement any embassy of the U.S. anywhere in the city including West City, is a tacit recognition of Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem because Israel itself does not recognize, Israel itself in 1980 annexed East Jerusalem, in the Knesset, legally, not only militarily.  You think it's a coincidence that all previous U.S. presidents have promised to move the embassy and all of them reneged on that promise?  Because when they started being in actual office they discovered that, oops, we are doomed if we do, and we are doomed if we don't.  If we do move the embassy, that's a recognition of Israel's annex... annexation and this is against our policy, we don't it's against the policy and the law of America remember only two years ago the...the case and the courts that went all the way to the Supreme Court about an Israeli citizen who wanted to change his place of birth from Jerusalem to Israel.  It went all the way, and then all the way, every judge, including the Supreme judges, told that citizen; we do not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's, or under Israel's control, until we do you come back.  The law is clear, so, putting it in Jerusalem West does not mean nothing, given that there is annexation.  The logic was, you promised us that your deal is going to be swift, fast you're going to present something in weeks, they were talking about weeks.  You could not wait for weeks to present a logic that will make the whole world celebrate the two embassies, we would want to have a Palestinian embassy also in Israel, and an Israeli embassy in Palestine, but that should have always been the outcome of peace and final agreement, not the entry to peace agreements.  Not the...not taking off issues, not the...dedicating, or the dictating, sorry, the terms of...the reference and as I said, in politics it's not just about rationale, it's also about trust.  If you want to do all this and you think we can be coerced, you know, my friend, I know there is a lot of...trying to overreach now, thinking the Palestinians are in their weakest position, thinking the Arab world is in its weakest position, thinking the international community can do little, if any[thing], but I'll tell you in the end...in the end, the key,the key to Israel's survival, the key to a final agreement, is only with the people of Palestine.  Don't look anywhere [else] and keep looking, you know, there was so many incidents in the history whereby people were looking for other agencies, we are the only agency, and I'll tell you by way of ending this, this agency is not in a mode now for just further thinking about compromises this agency now is in a mode to protect our rights, to shield our rights, and to try to build it onward from there.

Salem:    Thank You ambassador Zomlot, please join me in thanking Ambassador Zomlot
 [Applause]

[End of Audio]

Duration: 82 minutes