Trump must show how he will advance Mideast peace

London: Donald Trump must show how he will progress peace talks in the Middle East after he deprived negotiators of the key bargaining chip in finalising the status of Jerusalem, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said.

Johnson made the comments after delivering a 4,700 word speech on the fight against terrorism, in which he called on the Arab world to look past its tribal instincts and become more nationalistic, to promote enduring institutions that would help the Muslim world overcome the "addictive" lure of jihadism infecting Islam.

A copy of his speech provided to the media in advance had a section in bold, that Johnson didn't deliver, condemning the president's decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem before the resolution of decades-long dispute.

Asked by Fairfax Media about the omission of the comments, the foreign secretary blamed its last minute inclusion, and reiterated Prime Minister Theresa May's condemnation of Trump's move saying it was not helpful.

"America and all her allies have, for a long time, thought that was a card that should not be played until we could use it as an incentive to get the peace process moving," Mr Johnson told journalists and diplomats at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall.

But he said the Trump administration's move could also provide opportunities to break the stalemate.

"I think, this decision having been announced by President Trump, the world would like to see some serious announcements by the US about how they see the Middle East peace process and how to bring the two sides together.

"I think that's what we all want to see. If we are going to have a move of the US embassy, then let's also see some moves towards the long overdue resolution of the Middle East peace process.

"A lot of people are very excited and interested in possibilities that the American administration, the Trump administration, could bring to the Middle East peace process.

"There is an opportunity, there is a conjuncture of the stars, there is a moment - people think - when progress could be made."

Trump has repeatedly said he wants to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict.

"We ... think that the future of Jerusalem must be settled as part of the negotiated agreement between Israel and the Palestinians and as part of the two-state solution," Johnson said.

Terrorism a cancer

Johnson described terrorism as a "disease or psychosis," which he said had an addictive power like crack cocaine. He said that, with Muslims comprising most of terrorism's victims, it would only be the Arab and Western worlds combined that could defeat the ideology.

But he said it was up to the Muslim world to look past what the 14th Century Tunisian scholar Ibn Khaldoun dubbed asabiyya - a group's loyalty to a group, tribe or sect that sweeps dynasties into power - and instead embrace nationalism.

"Nationalism is not a fashionable concept in some circles, but it can be immensely valuable," he said.

"If people have a sense of loyalty and duty to their country and to its institutions, then those institutions will endure and they will help to promote equity and fairness and respect in society because they command a devotion that goes beyond the narrow selfish ambitions of asabiyyah."

He said the UK needed to intensify its development aid programmes, particularly to fight the "cultural and intellectual repression of women," as well as back human rights organisations and NGO's helping to drive change.

He said although the global coalition, of which Australia is part of, had helped reverse Islamic State's occupations of Iraqi and Syrian cities, they were "invisibly reassembling themselves".

Mr Johnson said the Iraq war had been a mistake but it was not British foreign policy that had created terrorism. Rather, it was oppressive regimes which forced citizens to choose between bad or worse options, for example Syria's Bashar al-Assad or Islamic State.

"So we end up with a lose-lose situation," he said.

"If you have a chaotic state, then you have a breeding ground for terror. If you have a strong but repressive state then you also have a potential breeding ground for terror."

He said the West must collectively re-insert itself in the Middle East because retreating in Syria, and Libya had only left the "pitch wide open for Russia and Iran".

This story Trump must show how he will advance Mideast peace first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.