World leaders express alarm at Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as capital of Israel

Written by Martin Banks on 7 December 2017 in News

International leaders have condemned Donald Trump's decision to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.


Donald Trump | Photo credit: Press Association

A chorus of international leaders have criticised the Trump administration’s decision to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, calling it a dangerous disruption that contravenes UN resolutions and could inflame one of the world’s thorniest conflicts.

US President Donald Trump, speaking on Wednesday, said Washington will officially recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and begin the process of moving its embassy there from Tel Aviv.

He said he was making good on a campaign promise that critics fear could shut the door on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and ignite fresh violence in the region.

“Today we finally acknowledge the obvious: That Jerusalem is Israel's capital,” Trump said. “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It's something that has to be done.”

He also said the US still wanted to see a peace agreement and would not take a position on “the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders.”

Reacting to the move, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, said “any action that would undermine” peace efforts to create two separate states for the Israelis and the Palestinians “must absolutely be avoided”.

She said, “The European Union has a clear and united position. We believe the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two states and with Jerusalem as the capital of both.”

She told a news conference in Brussels she would meet Jordan’s foreign minister on Friday, while she and EU foreign ministers would discuss Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Brussels on Monday.

“The European Union will engage even more with the parties and with our regional and international partners. We will keep working with the Middle East Quartet, possibly in an enlarged format,” said Mogherini, citing Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as well as Norway.

“We remain convinced that the role of the United States is crucial,” she said.

Some in Israel also perceive the EU as being too pro-Palestinian, partly because of the EU’s long-held opposition to Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, diplomats say.

Elsewhere, UN Secretary General António Guterres and Pope Francis both expressed alarm that the announcement would provoke new tensions in the Holy City, which is revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Within minutes of Trump’s speech, in which he said the American Embassy would be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Guterres delivered what amounted to a diplomatic rebuke.

Guterres criticised “any unilateral measures that would jeopardise the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians,” underscoring the administration’s departure from decades of American policy.

Meanwhile, GUE/NGL group MEPs in Parliament’s delegation for relations with Palestine issued a damning statement which read, “We deplore threats by the Trump administration to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and to recognise the city as the capital of Israel.

“If carried out, the US will betray its historic commitment to the two-state solution and make irrelevant its role in the peace process. Furthermore, the move will alienate the entire Arab and Muslim world and unleash further instability in the region.

“No country in the world recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, particularly because under UN General Assembly resolution 181 (1947) Jerusalem was established as a corpus separatum under a special international regime.”

It added, “The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People confirms that city’s status remains such. For decades Israel has sought to change the status of Jerusalem. These actions not only have serious humanitarian consequences, they undermine the Palestinian presence in the city.

“The future of Jerusalem cannot be decided unilaterally and through force. There is no Palestinian state without east Jerusalem as its capital. Trump’s vision, like that of Israel’s far-right government, is of a perpetual occupation.”

The statement concluded, “We call on the EU to make clear that setbacks in the peace process, such as Trump’s actions, the construction of settlements and human rights violations, are setbacks in the EU’s relations with Israel.

“The EU must also make clear to the United States that a unilateral move in Jerusalem is a historic betrayal to longstanding shared positions in the peace process and will undermine the perspective of the two state solution.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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