EU leaders reject Netanyahu’s plea to back Trump on Jerusalem

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unsuccessfully urged the European Union on Monday to back the United States’ new recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

A Palestinian displays a photo of U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday outside the American House, the former U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem, in protest of his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo
A Palestinian displays a photo of U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday outside the American House, the former U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem, in protest of his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

Netanyahu made the plea during the first official visit in 22 years of an Israeli premier to the EU’s Belgium headquarters — and nearly a week after U.S. President Donald Trump moved to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“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,” Netanyahu said in a joint appearance with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Mogherini, however, said Jerusalem must be the capital “of both Israel and Palestine.”

“I know that Prime Minister Netanyahu mentioned a couple of times that he expects others to follow President Trump’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem,” Mogherini said. “He can keep his expectations for others, because from the European Union member states’ side, this move will not come.”

Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron said the U.S. decision constitutes “a danger to peace.”

In a later statement, Netanyhu said recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital “doesn’t obviate peace, it makes peace possible, because recognizing reality is the substance of peace, it’s the foundation of peace.”

Mogherini said that while “Israel and the EU are friends and partners,” it’s in Israel’s interest to relaunch the peace process.

“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,” she said at the joint appearance. “EU and member states will continue to respect the international consensus on Jerusalem until the final status of the holy city is resolved, through direct negotiations between the parties.”

Netanyahu told reporters that “Israel is the strongest power in the Middle East that is preventing the spread of militant Islam, not only preventing ISIS attacks in Europe but also preventing the collapse of many parts in the Middle East adjacent to Israel that otherwise would be taken over by these militant Islamists driving many, many millions into Europe.”

After departing Brussels, Netanyahu told reporters on his plane that EU ministers needed to stop “spoiling” the Palestinians — and that the root of the conflict is not the Israeli settlements in Palestinian areas. He also said Palestinians believed parts of sovereign Israel, such as Jaffa, are “settlements.”

Trump’s move on Jerusalem, which he said will be accompanied by moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv, has inflamed tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

After Trump announced the policy change last week, protests erupted in many parts of the Islamic world. Palestinian militants launched missiles into Israel and the Jewish state responded with airstrikes on Gaza.

In the southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon, on Monday, thousands took part in a mass rally organized by Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militant group. They chanted slogans against the U.S. and Israel, like “Death to America,” “Death to Israel,” and “War, War, until victory.”

By Allen Cone