EUROPE AND US DIFFER OVER JERUSALEM


23/01/2018




Robert Harneis –TDO- (FRANCE) As US Vice President Mike Pence was receiving an exceptionally warm welcome in Israel, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was in Brussels, where member states assured him it supported his ambition to have East Jerusalem as capital of a Palestinian state. This is the EU’s latest rejection of U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Pence, who has in the past described Israel as "America's most cherished ally", announced that the new US embassy would open in Jerusalem “before the end of next year.”

Meanwhile in Brussels, European High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, told Abbas that “I want to reassure President Abbas of the firm commitment of the European Union to the two-state solution with Jerusalem as the shared capital of the two states.” She called on all parties to act “wisely” with a sense of responsibility. Earlier in the day she commented, in relation to President Trump’s shock announcement that the US embassy would be moved to Jerusalem, “Clearly there is a problem with Jerusalem. That is a very diplomatic euphemism.”

The EU foreign ministers also discussed increasing aid to the Palestinian authority in the light of the decision by the United States to withhold half the aid promised to United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) that is an essential life line for many Palestinian refugees. However, no decision was taken.

Ministers were divided on the question of recognizing the Palestinian state with only eight member states so far granting recognition. The European Union is the biggest aid donor to the Palestinians and at the same time Israel’s biggest trade partner.

Current US policy is driven by the imminence of midterm elections in November and the close links of the Republican party with Zionists both at home and in Israel. During President Obama’s time in office in 2015, they went so far as to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address congress without consulting the President during the bitter dispute over the Iran Nuclear Deal.

 


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