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There may be violence in Jerusalem, but some Middle East analysts see a new path to peace

Path to peace unclear as Muslim leaders slam Trump
Leaders from 57 Muslim countries have called on the world to recognize East Jerusalem as the "occupied capital of Palestine." The statement by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation was in response to Donald Trump declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel last week. But despite the violent and political backlash, some analysts see a new roadmap to peace. Jeff Semple explains.

One week after U.S. President Donald Trump proclaimed Jerusalem the capital of Israel, leaders from 57 Muslim countries have called on the world to recognize East Jerusalem as the “occupied capital” of Palestine.

The statement from the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation came after Trump’s controversial commitment to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv.

READ MORE: Putin says U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is destabilizing Middle East

Despite the violent and political backlash across the Arab world, some Middle East observers see a road-map to peace.

“Now is the moment, because you have the regional atmosphere of uniting against Iran that can bring this peace process forward,” Gil Hoffman, an Israeli and chief political correspondent and analyst with the Jerusalem Post, told Global News.

Hoffman says the political sands in the Middle East are shifting: Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Arab allies find themselves on the same side as both the United States and Israel, against the growing influence of their common enemy: Iran.

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“Iran is a unifying force between the US, the Saudis, the Israelis and others,” Gershon Baskin, founder of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, said.

But Baskin says any cooperation between the Saudis and Israelis depends on the success of the Palestinian peace process.

“The Palestinian issue is one of high sensitivity to the Arab streets; perhaps less-so to the regimes themselves, but they know that betraying Palestine would be detrimental to their own support,” Baskin said.

The Saudis have been quietly pressing the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table with the Israelis, according to reports.

WATCH: Global News coverage of Donald Trump’s announcement: 

West Bank Wall, Dec. 13, 2017.
West Bank Wall, Dec. 13, 2017. Jeff Semple
West Bank Wall, Dec. 13, 2017.
West Bank Wall, Dec. 13, 2017. Jeff Semple / Global News
West Bank Wall, Dec. 13, 2017.
West Bank Wall, Dec. 13, 2017. Jeff Semple
West Bank Wall, Dec. 13, 2017.
West Bank Wall, Dec. 13, 2017. Jeff Semple / Global News
West Bank Wall, Dec. 13, 2017.
West Bank Wall, Dec. 13, 2017. Jeff Semple / Global News
Damascus Gate, Dec. 13, 2017.
Damascus Gate, Dec. 13, 2017. Jeff Semple / Global News
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Damascus Gate, Dec. 13, 2017.
Damascus Gate, Dec. 13, 2017. Jeff Semple / Global News
Abdeen family gas station.
Abdeen family gas station.

The White House, meanwhile, is expected to present a new peace plan for the region in the New Year. It will reportedly include some incentives for the Palestinians, which the Israelis may be pressured to accept.

“Perhaps there could be enough there for both sides to at least step into the room together and begin a new negotiation,” Baskin said.

The biggest impediment to the peace process moving forward may be Donald Trump himself.

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READ MORE: What does Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital mean for the city’s status?

“Trump disqualified himself as a broker. And his ultimate deal is null,” Arab Israeli lawmaker Ahmad Tibi told Global News in Jerusalem, while attending an anti-Trump protest at Damascus Gate.

Palestinian Rabah Abdeen and his family live in East Jerusalem and run a gas station in the West Bank. The 70-year-old business once served Bethlehem’s busy Hebron Road to Jerusalem, but it now sits empty in the shadow of the Israeli West Bank Barrier — the eight-metre-high solid concrete wall that separates Israel from the Palestinian territories.

The Abdeen family
The Abdeen family. Jeff Semple / Global News

“We are struggling here to live, struggling not to close our small business,” Abdeen said.

For the past week, Palestinian protesters have clashed with Israeli forces in front of Abdeen’s business.

He said he fears for his business and the safety of his two young sons. But despite the personal sacrifice, he says, he will never give up his Palestinian claim to East Jerusalem.

“This is our dignity. We only have our dignity and we will never lose our dignity,” he said. “Jerusalem is everything.”