aspacpalestine.com – Brussel. European foreign ministers have strongly rejected calls by Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for them to follow Donald Trump’s example and recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Opposition from across the European spectrum came as Netanyahu made the first official trip to the EU by a sitting Israeli premier in 22 years.
Even the Czech Republic, one of Israel’s closest allies, said the US president’s decision was bad for peace efforts. France said Jerusalem’s status could be agreed only in a final deal between Israelis and Palestinians.
Netanyahu called on European governments to back a much-mooted US peace initiative despite the fact that Trump has yet to reveal any details about it.
France’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, made clear that the EU would not write a blank cheque for an unseen Trump peace plan and urged Washington to disclose what was being drawn up by Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s Middle East envoy, and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.
“We’ve been waiting already for several months for the American initiative, and if one is not forthcoming then the European Union will have to take the initiative,” Le Drian said.
Netanyahu, arriving for a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, said Trump’s move made peace in the Middle East possible “because recognising reality is the substance of peace, the foundation of peace”.
He said all or most European countries would move their embassies to Jerusalem and recognise it as Israel’s capital, though there is no evidence that any European country is preparing to do so.
Sweden’s top diplomat, Margot Wallstrom, said after the meeting: “I have a hard time seeing that any other country would do that and I don’t think any other EU country will do it.”
The EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, reiterated the bloc’s commitment to a two-state solution, telling Netanyahu it would continue to recognise the international consensus on Jerusalem. The EU would increase its peace efforts and hold talks with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, next month, she said.
Palestinian officials have called on Europe to take a greater role in the moribund peace process after Trump’s move, which sparked protests across the Middle East and accusations that the US had abdicated its role as an honest mediator.
Abbas travelled to Istanbul and Cairo to meet Egypt’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to rally support ahead of an emergency summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Turkey this week.
Palestinians are calling on the 57-member OIC, which will convene on Wednesday, to make its own recognition of Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.
Following his own meeting with Sisi on Monday, Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, said any steps that pre-empted a possible agreement between Israel and the Palestinians were counter-productive and destabilising.
Arab states condemned Trump’s Jerusalem decision last week and vowed to press international bodies to take action against it, though without announcing any concrete measures.
There has been widespread condemnation in Germany of anti-Israel protests over the weekend that included chants of “Death to Israel” and incidents in which protesters set light to Israeli flags and ignited yellow Stars of David.