Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s appeal to allies in Europe to stand with the United States in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has failed, as foreign ministers indicated it might actually harm the peace process.
The European Union’s diplomatic chief rejected the appeal saying that they would have no change in its stance on Jerusalem.
Empowered and motivated by President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Netanyahu visited the European Union headquarters to seek the same endorsement from the 28-nation bloc. The visit marks the first by an Israeli prime minister to the headquarters in 22 years. The visit however, was unsuccessful, as the bloc’s members were not unified in their thoughts toward Israel. Instead, the EU’s official position is to support Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini.
Netanyahu has shared his disappointment in this stance by EU, as he expressed that “all or most” European countries would support the United States’ position. However, head of the EU’s foreign policy, Federica Mogherini, gave Netanyahu a stern rebuttal, advising that he should “keep his expectations for others, because from the European Union member states’ side this move will not come.”
The Making of a Controversial Decision
The EU expressed concern about the decision made by the United States. Prime Minister Netanyahu defended statements made by Trump, and indicated that the president was simply acknowledging the facts that Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for over 3,000 years, and of the Israeli state for 70 years.
According to EU leadership, this controversial decision on Jerusalem could compromise years of U.S. diplomacy, and could make the situation worse. Mogherini warned that it could take the strained situation “backwards to even darker times.” She further insisted the EU’s stance that “the only realistic solution” for peace is two separate states – Israel and Palestine – naming Jerusalem as the capital of both with their borders being returned to their original placement as they were in 1967 before the Arab-Israeli War.
There has been a long term and unsuccessful debate about how to divide sovereignty and manage the holy sites, since both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital.
Netanyahu, however, thinks that a new U.S. peace initiative provides a way to look to the future and move forward.
“There is now an effort under way to bring forward a new peace proposal by the American administration. I think we should give peace a chance. I think we should see what is presented and see if we can advance this peace,” he said.
Trump’s senior adviser, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, has a team dedicated to working to develop a new U.S. proposal that will revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
U.S. Efforts Questioned
Mogherini indicated that the efforts of the United States seem to be in the early development stages, and that a clear goal and decisiveness on how to get to a place where a peaceful, mutual agreement can be reached has not yet been clearly defined. She also indicated “that a United States initiative alone would not be successful”, indicating that international and regional support are needed for successful peace negotiations.
Although most of the EU members have expressed concern about the Trump administration’s policy shift, the 28-member bloc is not unanimous on the serious issue. Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, and the Czech Republic support better relations with Israel.
Protests Across the Muslim World
President Trump’s announcement on December 6, 2017 was met with a clash in the Palestinian territories as well as several days of protests throughout Muslim areas. Violent demonstrations led to airstrikes on Gaza after Palestinian militants fired missiles into Israel. Netanyahu chastised the EU for what he called “hypocrisy” for them criticizing President Trump but not making a statement about the hostile missile attacks or incitement against Israel.
Netanyahu met with President Emmanuel Macron of France in Paris, where he the French President indicated that the status of Jerusalem could only be sorted out between Israelis and Palestinians to settle their disputes, which have plagued them both for many decades. After his meeting with EU foreign ministers, Netanyahu said that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “doesn’t obviate peace, it makes peace possible, because recognizing reality is the substance of peace, it’s the foundation of peace.”
Netanyahu further indicated his thoughts on the relocation of embassies to Jerusalem, “I believe that all, or most, of the European countries will move their embassies to Jerusalem, recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and engage robustly with us for security, prosperity and peace.”
~ 1776 Christian