LONDON: The Arab world, the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN), close US ally the United Kingdon, and France have either condemned or raised concerns over the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
US President Donald Trump on Wednesday recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced that he would begin moving the US embassy there. Trump’s decision came despite warnings from leaders across the globe that the move would undermine peace efforts and spark violence.
“It is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” the President said in a statement at the White House.
Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, reversing decades of US and international policy on the holy city. He also directed the State Department to immediately begin the process of construction of a US Embassy in Jerusalem.
Arab world condemns Trump’s decision
The Arab world has denounced the US’ decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and said the holy city would continue to remain the “eternal capital of the State of Palestine” and that Trump’s move has opened “the gates of hell”.
Leading the charge, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in a televised speech on Wednesday, said their leadership would not accept the move and announced that the US could no longer participate in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
The Palestine Liberation Organization echoed Abbas’ comments and said the decision has “destroyed the two-state solution”.
The US President has “disqualified his country from any role whatsoever” in the peace process, media reports quoted Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the Palestinians, as saying.
The Palestinian Islamist group, Hamas, vociferously condemned Trump’s announcement, which was termed “historic” by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The reversal of policy has opened “the gates of hell” and the decision “will not succeed in changing the fact that Jerusalem is an Arab Muslim land,” independent.co.uk quoted a militant group’s spokesperson as saying.
Egypt, which shares borders with both Israel and Gaza, where mostly Palestinians reside, also condemned the move and, in a statement, said such unilateral decisions go against international resolutions.
Another Muslim majority country, Turkey, too, slammed Trump’s announcement. “We condemn the irresponsible statement of the US administration that we learnt with great concern, declaring that it recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and it will be moving the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
UN Security Council to meet on Friday
The United Nations Security Council has convened a meeting on Friday in the wake of Trump announcing his decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. (Read more here)
At least eight of the 15 members of the Security Council, including Britain and France – the two permanent members that closely align themselves on most of the global issues – joined by other non-permanent members, asked for a special meeting of the top decision-making wing of the New York-headquartered world body.
According to agency reports, the Swedish mission to the 15-member body said that Bolivia, Egypt, France, Italy, Senegal, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay wanted a meeting by the end of the week. (Read more here)
UN chief opposes US decision to relocate Embassy in Jerusalem
The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is expected to address the Security Council on Friday. Earlier in a statement, Guterres said that Jerusalem was the final status issue and must be resolved through direct negotiations. “In this moment of great anxiety, I want to make it clear: there is no alternative to the two-state solution. There is no Plan B,” he said, adding that he has consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would “jeopardise” the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians. (Read more here)
“Jerusalem is a final status issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties on the basis of the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, taking into account the legitimate concerns of both the Palestinian and the Israeli sides,” Guterres said.
Merkel ‘does not support’ Trump’s Jerusalem announcement
German Chancellor Angela Merkel “does not support” the decision by Trump to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, her spokesman said on Wednesday. The German government “does not support this position because the status of Jerusalem can only be negotiated within the framework of a two-state solution,” spokesman Steffen Seibert wrote on Twitter. (Read more here)
German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel, for his part, said he feared Trump’s decision would lead to a “new escalation in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians”. The decision will likely throw “fuel on the fire”, he told public broadcaster ARD. “We hope that (our) worries can be… calmed. But this about-face is already a big problem.”
UK disagrees with ‘unhelpful’ US decision on Jerusalem
British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday said the British government disagreed with Trump’s decision, saying it was “unhelpful” for peace efforts. “We disagree with the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital,” she said in a statement, adding, “We believe it is unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region.” (Read more here)
The prime minister reaffirmed that Britain’s embassy to Israel would remain in Tel Aviv and her government’s belief that the status of Jerusalem “should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians”.
“Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states,” said May, adding, “We regard East Jerusalem as part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” But May, who sparred with Trump last week over the US president’s retweeting of a British far-right group, said she shared her counterpart’s “desire to bring an end to this conflict”.
EU voices ‘serious concern’ on Trump Jerusalem decision
The European Union’s chief diplomat voiced “serious concern” over Trump’s decision to recognise the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. (Read more here)
“The aspirations of both parties must be fulfilled and a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states,” said Federica Mogherini, referring to Israelis and Palestinians.