Tzipi Livni: We Must Turn Trump's Jerusalem Decision Into a Lasting Peace

As an Israeli, and a Jew, President Donald Trump's declaration on Jerusalem being the capital of the state of Israel touched my heart.

As an Israeli leader and chief negotiator who believes in peace based upon the principle of two states for two peoples, I do believe that this decision does not and should not jeopardize the possibility of achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

President Trump acknowledged the reality, but emphasized that the US supports the two states solution and does not take a position on any final status issues.

This includes determining the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem and the resolution of contested borders, issues the President said will be agreed upon solely by the parties.

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Israeli MP Tzipi Livni (left) speaks with Palestinian president Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas at the World Economic Forum held in the Dead Sea resort of Shuneh, west of the Jordanian capital, Amman on May 20, 2017. KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty

As important as the declaration is, it is really just a description of reality. We tend to forget that Jerusalem was declared the capital of Israel in 1949 right after the state's establishment and long before the Six-Day War.

Since then, Jerusalem functions as Israel's capital, the place where world leaders meet their Israeli counterparts for official meetings. I do not ignore the fact that after the Six-Day War Israel annexed East Jerusalem, where history, religion, and faith create a very complicated reality, in which Israel keeps freedom of worship for all religions.

I also am not naïve enough to think that the declaration has no impact on both sides, be it satisfaction or even happiness in Israel, and frustration on the Palestinian side.

But the question of reaching peace depends on one main factor—the willingness of leaders on both sides to make bold decisions here and now. The leaders who should be making the decisions are those who understand that people come before politics, and whatever political price they might pay now, it will be lower than the price their people will pay without peace.

On this matter, I have criticism on both sides. I believe that Israel should have reacted to the President's declaration not only with gratitude and joy, but also with an announcement supporting the two states solution.

I call on the Palestinians and world leaders who support peace to put aside their criticism and frustration and instead focus on the end game—a final status agreement. This is what those believing in peace should do.

This is what I did in the past. I have sat down with my Palestinian counterparts in times of terror and in times of frustration. I entered the negotiations room following decisions by the international community supporting the Palestinians, including statements declaring Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state.

What is the use in fighting over whose capital is Jerusalem without deciding on the issues to end the conflict, determining where the borders of both states lie and enabling the establishment of a Palestinian state?

Instead of fixating on the declaration, efforts should be focused on immediately relaunching negotiations based on parameters that represent the interests of those on both sides who believe in a solution and an end to the conflict based on two states for two peoples.

This is the way that hope will replace anger and despair. Nevertheless, Frustration or anger should never be accepted as a just cause for violence and terror.

Most importantly, President Trump said in his speech that this decision was the fulfillment of an election campaign promise. Now it's time to fulfill another promise—to make the ultimate peace deal between Israel, the Palestinians and the entire Arab world.

Tzipi Livni was Israel's minister of foreign affairs from 2006 to 2009, Israel's leader of the opposition until 2012 and minister of justice from 2013 to 2014.

Tzipi Livni: We Must Turn Trump's Jerusalem Decision Into a Lasting Peace | Opinion