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EU to Netanyahu: Jerusalem Must be Capital of Two States

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday he believes most or all European countries will move their embassies to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel's capital, following a move to do so by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Speaking in Brussels alongside European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, Netanyahu said Trump's recognition of Jerusalem "put facts squarely on the table" and that "peace is based on reality."

"Jerusalem is Israel's capital. No one can deny. It doesn't obviate peace, it makes peace possible because recognizing reality is the substance of peace, it's the foundation of peace," Netanyahu said.

Mogherini said the EU will continue to follow international consensus on Jerusalem until its status is solved as part of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, which at this time means not joining the U.S. position Trump announced last week.

"We believe 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," Mogherini said.

She pledged to increase work with partners in the region, including Egypt and Jordan, as well as the Israelis and Palestinians themselves to relaunch the peace process, "even if it seems like difficult times."

Mogherini said the worst that can happen at this time is an escalation of violence and tension, and she condemned "in the strongest way" all attacks against Jews and Israel.

Ahead of his visit to Brussels to meet with EU foreign ministers, Netanyahu had criticized European leaders for what he called their "hypocrisy" in standing against Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and set in motion the process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the city.

"I hear voices from there condemning President Trump's historic statement, but I have not heard condemnations of the rockets fired at Israel or the terrible incitement against it," the Israeli leader said Saturday.

He added Sunday after meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron that Jerusalem has always been Israel's capital, and that "the sooner the Palestinians come to grips with this reality, the sooner we'll move toward peace."

Macron condemned attacks on Israel, but said he opposes Trump's decision on Jerusalem. Macron described it as a "breach of international law and a risk for peace. In risk for peace because I believe these statements do not serve security, including the security of Israel and the Israelis."

Trump's decision has been met by protests in parts of the Muslim and Arab world, including a new wave of demonstrations Sunday.

Lebanese security forces outside the U.S. Embassy in Beirut fired water cannons and tear gas to beat back Lebanese and Palestinian protesters who hurled projectiles at the embassy and burned Trump in effigy, along with U.S. and Israeli flags.

In Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, thousands of protesters mounted a demonstration outside the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Jakarta. Other protests occurred in Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia, Egypt and the Palestinian territories bordering Israel.

Police in the Swedish city of Gothenburg arrested three people for allegedly throwing firebombs at a synagogue. A police spokesman said Sunday the incident is being investigated as attempted arson. No one was hurt in the incident.

Israeli police said a security guard was stabbed and seriously wounded near the Jerusalem bus terminal. His attacker was arrested.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, defended Trump's decision in an interview on CNN. She said Israel already has numerous government agencies in Jerusalem, adding, "Why shouldn't we have the embassy there?" She said Trump "did the will of the (American) people" by making a decision that previous U.S. presidents refused to do.

Earlier Sunday, the Arab League called Trump’s decision "a dangerous development that places the United States at a position of bias in favor of the occupation and the violation of international law and resolutions."

The statement was issued after an emergency meeting of league foreign ministers in Cairo and went on to say that Trump’s decision also strips the U.S. of its role as a "sponsor and broker" in the Mideast peace process.

The resolution also said Trump’s Jerusalem decision "undermines efforts to bring about peace, deepens tension and will spark anger that will threaten to push the region to the edge of the abyss of violence, chaos and bloodshed."

The head of the Arab League called on the nations of the world to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state with Jerusalem as its capital, in response to Trump's announcement. The foreign ministers also called on the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution condemning Trump’s decision.

The heads of the largest Christian church in Cairo and Al-Azhar University have said they will not meet with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence when he visits Cairo on December 20. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has also announced he will not meet with Pence, saying "the U.S. has crossed red lines" on Jerusalem.

A spokeswoman for Pence said Sunday it was "unfortunate that the Palestinian Authority is walking away again from an opportunity to discuss the future of the region.''

A statement from the Coptic Orthodox Church called the Trump decision "inappropriate and without consideration for the feelings of millions of people."

VOA

Concord Newsdesk

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