Europe rattled Trump may recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

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December 5, 2017 02:40

French President Emmanuel Macron told Trump he was “concerned”

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Emmanuel Macron

Emmanuel Macron. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Europe is rattled by reports that US President Donald Trump may recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, possibly as early as Wednesday.

French President Emmanuel Macron told Trump he was “concerned” and urged him not to take such a step in a Monday telephone call between the two leaders..

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“Mr. Macron reaffirmed that the status of Jerusalem must be resolved through peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, particularly those relating to the establishment of two states,” Macron’s office said.

To date, recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been held hostage to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The eighty-seven countries with embassies in Israel have placed them in the Tel Aviv area, rather than Jerusalem.

Prior the election US President Donald Trump promised to relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv, but has yet to make good on that pledge.

In 1995 Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which mandated the embassy relocation, unless the president signs a waiver every six months. Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat urges Trump to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. (Facebook/Nir Barkat - ניר ברקת)

Trump is expected to sign a waiver, due already on December 1, releasing him from this obligation. But to mollify supporters of the embassy relocation, Trump is expected to announce US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

A White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said an announcement on the decision will be made "in coming days,” Last week 151 member states of the United Nations voted in the General Assembly on a resolution disavowing Israeli ties to Jerusalem.

All European Union countries supported the UNGA resolution.

EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini spoke by phone with the Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and urged his country to remain calm should Trump recognize Jerusalem.

“It might have serious repercussions on public opinion in large parts of the world,” Mogherini said in a statement issued to the media on Monday after the call. “The focus should therefore remain on the efforts to restart the peace process and avoiding any action that would undermine such efforts,” she said. “The EU will continue to engage with both parties and its international and regional partners, including within the Quartet, to support a resumption of a meaningful peace process,” Mogherini said.

Safadi took to twitter to detail his campaign against such an announcement.

“Spoke with #US Secretary of State [Rex] Tillerson on dangerous consequences of recognizing Jerusalem as capital of Israel. Such a decision would trigger anger across #Arab #Muslim worlds, fuel tension & jeopardize peace efforts,” Safadi said.

He had also spoken with the Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Ministyr as well as with the Foreign ministers of Oman, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Iraq and Tunisia.

Separately he spoke with the Secretary-Generals of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, as well as with the PLO’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.

It would be the "kiss of death" to the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Palestine Liberation Organization's chief representative in Washington Husam Zomlot told Reuters on Monday.

“President Trump has promised us in every meeting we convened with him, with our President Mahmoud Abbas, and we met him three times in a few weeks, if you remember,” Zomlot said.

“in every meeting he [Trump] said I want to be a fair arbitrator or a fair mediator and fairness is about seeing all the sides and fairness is making sure that the final agreement is going to satisfy the legitimate needs of all involved,” Zomlot said. “Such a move is going to absolutely preempt and we firmly believe this was delivered that those who have thought about this idea of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel want to preempt any possibility of President Trump to actually achieve the ultimate deal,” he said.

Saudi Ambassador Prince Khalid bin Salman said, ”Any US announcement on the status of Jerusalem prior to a final settlement would have a detrimental impact on the peace process and would heighten tensions in the region," Saudi Ambassador Prince Khalid bin Salman said in a statement.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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