Less than half an hour before Trump made his speech today recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell brought NBC Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel onto her MSNBC show to discuss the implications of the President’s announcement. Reporting from the Palestinian Territories in Ramallah, Engel went to great pains to promote his hosts’ perspective on Trump’s upcoming speech, lamenting Palestinians’ lost “dream” of “a future capital.” Engel also characterized Trump’s Jerusalem policy shift recognizing that “the Israelis are right” as “profoundly unsettling.”
See the brief segment for yourself:
ANDREA MITCHELL: MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin in Jerusalem rejoins me. NBC’s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is in Ramallah, NBC’s Matt Bradley in Cairo. Richard Engel, first to you. The White House, as Peter Alexander was saying earlier is saying that this will make it easier to reach a larger peace deal. I have to say that that flies in the face of everything that I am hearing from diplomatic sources as well as Middle East experts.
RICHARD ENGEL: It certainly flies in the face of what -- not just what I'm hearing now, but what the two of us have been covering for, for decades now. Andrea, how many meetings have you covered? How many diplomatic sessions have you covered in which hours and weeks are spent in painstaking negotiations behind closed doors, in private sessions, in order to try to keep the peace here? And now that process is being thrown out the window, or is soon to be thrown out the window when, when President Trump in a short amount of time is expected to, to make this statement. Both sides – and this is the, the basic crux of the issue here – both the Israelis and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem to be their capital. Both have historic claims. We could spend a lot of time to arguing why each side is, is right or why each side is, is somewhat wrong in its claim.
But the U.S. position has always been: It is going to be impartial. It is going to sit back and try to let the two sides hash it out peacefully and that at the end of the day, one of them will get most of what it wants or part of what it wants and a peaceable, -ful, diplomatic resolution will entail. That has been the basis for Middle East peace as long as I've been covering the Middle East and I think as long as you have been covering the Middle East. Now, President Trump is gonna basically come out and say: The Israelis are right, they have the facts on the ground, they already control East Jerusalem, so we're just gonna come out and say they control all of Jerusalem, it's their capital, and we'll see what happens from there. It is profoundly unsettling. It changes the rules of diplomacy in the Middle East, um, from, from night to day, really. And I think that's why you've seen such a universal expression of concern. Here in the West Bank, Palestinian territory, they are deeply disheartened by this move. They think it takes their, their dream of a, of a future capital away from them.
But also where Matt Bradley is, Cairo – very strong statements. Turkey – very strong statements. Russia, China, France, NATO – all expressing concern. I would go so far as to say that under the Trump administration, no single issue has brought such a diverse lineup of political leaders -- the Pope expressing concern about this -- together than this one issue.
MITCHELL: And, exactly.
If the Palestinians had stopped actively supporting political parties whose charters call for the worldwide extermination of all Jews sometime before this year, perhaps they wouldn’t have to be so disheartened by Trump’s policy change.
Why do journalists assume that after decades of America following the same policies in relation to the Israel/Palestine conflict without significant progress, Trump’s speech today is what will destroy the possibility for a peaceful resolution to the strife there?
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