After moving embassy to Jerusalem, can the U.S. play a fair role in peace?

As Palestinians were killed protesting on the Gaza border, the U.S. embassy officially opened in Jerusalem on Monday. In the move towards a peace agreement, opinions are divided as to whether the U.S. can be a neutral mediator in the region.

UN Security Council met Tuesday to discuss recent violence that left 59 Palestinians dead

Palestinian demonstrators run for cover from Israeli fire and tear gas during a protest against the U.S.'s embassy move to Jerusalem, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip on May 14, 2018. (Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)
Listen19:38

Read Story Transcript

A day after the bloodiest death toll at the Gaza border since 2014, opinions are divided on the role the United States will play in the move towards a peace agreement.

Despite deadly protests over the decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, Einat Wilf, a former member of the Knesset says the move could result in the best chance for peace for the middle east in years.

On the other side, some Palestinians argue that the move means the U.S. can no longer be a neutral broker in peace negotiations.

"The prospects of peace are enhanced not by brokers, they're enhanced by the Palestinians actually adopting realistic goals as an independent state of Palestine, in the West Bank and Gaza," the author of The War for Return told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

"The Jews have a right to sovereignty, [Palestinians] have a right to sovereignty — that's the idea of two states."

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the opening ceremony of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on May 14. (AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli forces killed 59 Palestinians, most by gunfire, and injured more than 2,700 on Monday, Gaza Health Ministry said. 

The high casualty toll revived international criticism of Israel's use of lethal force against unarmed protesters. Israel's military says it is defending its border and has accused Hamas of using protests as a cover for attacks on the border.

Wilf said she would have preferred U.S. President Donald Trump be clear that the eastern part of Jerusalem is still up for negotiations, but added he did not rule out the possibility of a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem.

"As far as I'm concerned that still leaves the issue open and finally ends the idea that West Jerusalem should be challenged."

Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative, said the message behind the U.S. recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital is crystal clear. He said Trump and his team have taken an "absolutely pro-Israeli" stance.

A Palestinian teenager prepares to head to the border fence with Israel as mass demonstrations continue in Gaza City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

"His messages are negative, and all of them are in one direction which is supporting Israel's unacceptable measures of annexation and violation of international law, which makes the United States incapable of playing a role as a mediator," he said.

Barghouti suggests the only way peace can be achieved is when "there will be no occupation and no oppression of Palestinians."

"Yesterday Israel committed the massacre," he said, adding that "it's not Hamas alone that is demonstrating, but all Palestinian groups regardless of their political affiliation."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this page.


With files from the Associated Press. This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal and Jessica Linzey.