Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday he believes most or all European countries will move their embassies to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel’s capital, following last week’s declaration by U.S. President Donald Trump to do the same.
Speaking in Brussels alongside European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Netanyahu said Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem “put facts squarely on the table” and that “peace is based on reality.”
“Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. No one can deny. It doesn’t obviate peace; it makes peace possible because recognizing reality is the substance of peace. It’s the foundation of peace,” Netanyahu said.
Mogherini, however, rebuffed Netanyahu, saying the EU will not join Trump in recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
“We believe the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two states with Jerusalem as the capital of both the state of Israel and the state of Palestine,” Mogherini said.
She pledged to increase work with partners in the region, including Egypt and Jordan, as well as the Israelis and Palestinians themselves to relaunch the peace process, “even if it seems like difficult times.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a speech while visiting Egypt, also stressed the need for “the immediate resumption of Palestinian-Israeli talks over all disputed issues, including the status of Jerusalem.”
Mogherini said the worst that can happen at this time is an escalation of violence and tension, and she condemned “in the strongest way” all attacks against Jews and Israel.
Protests against Trump’s decision continued Monday, with tens of thousands of people turning out for a Hezbollah rally in Beirut, Lebanon, and chanting, “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” Protesters carried banners saying, “Jerusalem, Eternal Capital of Palestine.”
In Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, demonstrators burned U.S. and Israeli flags in front of the American embassy in another day of protests against Trump’s decision.
Ahead of the visit to Brussels to meet with EU foreign ministers, Netanyahu had criticized European leaders for what he called their “hypocrisy” in standing against Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and set in motion the process of moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to the city.
“I hear voices from there condemning President Trump’s historic statement, but I have not heard condemnations of the rockets fired at Israel or the terrible incitement against it,” the Israeli leader said Saturday.
He added Sunday after meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron that Jerusalem has always been Israel’s capital, adding, “The sooner the Palestinians come to grips with this reality, the sooner we’ll move toward peace.”
Macron condemned attacks on Israel, but said he opposes Trump’s decision on Jerusalem. Macron described it as a “breach of international law and a risk for peace…because I believe these statements do not serve security, including the security of Israel and the Israelis.”
On Sunday, the Arab League called Trump’s decision “a dangerous development that places the United States at a position of bias in favor of the occupation and the violation of international law and resolutions.”
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, defended Trump’s decision in an interview on CNN. She said Israel already has numerous government agencies in Jerusalem, adding, “Why shouldn’t we have the embassy there?” She said Trump “did the will of the (American) people” with a decision that previous U.S. presidents refused to make.
The heads of the largest Christian church in Cairo and Al-Azhar University have said they will not meet with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence when he visits Cairo on December 20. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has also announced he will not meet with Pence, saying, “The U.S. has crossed red lines” on Jerusalem.
A spokeswoman for Pence said Sunday it was “unfortunate that the Palestinian Authority is walking away again from an opportunity to discuss the future of the region.”
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