Friday, 23 Feb 2018 - 8 of Adar, 5778

After EU’s Mogherini, France’s Macron and Germany’s Gabriel warn US about a unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel

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PARIS/BERLIN/BRUSSELS —-In a phone call, French President Emmanuel Macron told US President Donald Trump that he was worried about the possibility that he could unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Macron’s office said in a statement.

“The French President expressed his concern over the possibility that the United States would unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” the statement said, after Macron and Trump spoke over the phone.

“Mr Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed that the question of Jerusalem’s status had to be dealt with in the framework of peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, with the aim in particular to establish two countries, Israel and Palestine, living in peace and security side by side with Jerusalem as capital.”

The French leader is expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Paris next Monday.

Reports in the US media say Trump is considering making a speech on Wednesday that recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital without actually moving the US embassy there.

Since 1995, the US president has been obliged to decide whether the embassy stays in Tel Aviv or moves to Jerusalem every six months.

The deadline to review the decision fell on Monday but Trump did not take a decision, although White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley said that it was “not a matter of if, but a matter of when”.

Senior US administration officials said that Trump will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and at the same time direct the State Department to begin the process to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who is not considered a great friend of Israel, on Tuesday warned against a unilateral American recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Speaking at a conference in Berlin, Gabriel added a fierce statement to his warning, saying that Germany would have to “spell out where the limits” of its solidarity stood.

“There are signs that America is going to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, without having reached an agreement with Europe on this subject we all know what the repercussions to that may be,” Gabriel said in a speech to the conference.

“The German stance on this question remains unchanged: The solution to the Jerusalem question can only be found through direct contacts between the two sides. Anything that could exacerbate the crisis is counterproductive,” Gabriel said in a sharply-worded statement.

Gabriel went on to add that “in any case Germany can’t afford to wait for decisions from Washington or just [wait until they are made]and then comment on them. We need first and foremost to describe our positions and in some cases – sometimes vis a vis our allies – spell out where the limits of our solidarity are.”

On Tuesday, during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said that “any action that would undermine” peace efforts to create two separate states for the Israelis and the Palestinians “must absolutely be avoided”.

‘’A way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states,” Mogherini said.

Mogherini said the EU’s 28 foreign ministers will jointly discuss the matter with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Brussels next Monday, to be followed by a similar meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas early next year.

Israel considers Jerusalem as its ”unified and indivisible” capital.


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