Brussels, Dec 11: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday urged European countries to follow the example set by the US and move their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, thus recognising the holy city as the capital of the Jewish State.
Netanyahu gave a brief statement to the press alongside the European Union (EU) Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini on what his first official visit to the EU institutions in Brussels. The visit happened for the first time in 22 years, reports Efe news.
“I believe that all, or most, European countries will move their embassies to Jerusalem and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” said the 68-year-old Prime Minister, insisting that such a move was the first step in securing peace between the Israeli and Palestinian communities.
“Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, no-one can deny it… It doesn’t obviate peace, it makes peace possible.”
But his visit to Brussels came at a time of heightened regional tensions and global condemnation of US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise the contended holy city as Israel’s capital.
On December 6, Trump broke with the tradition set by his predecessors by pledging to move the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, where all other international embassies are currently based.
Mogherini, however, used her welcome address with Netanyahu to reiterate the EU’s staunch support for a two-state solution whereby Jerusalem would be shared by the Israeli and Palestinian states, a foreign policy approach echoed by the UK and France.
She said the worst thing that could happen at the moment would be an escalation in violence, both in the region and globally.
Calling for calm, she said: “Let me condemn in the strongest possible way all the attacks on Jews, everywhere in the world including in Europe and on Israel and on Israeli citizens. Increased tensions and violence would only inflame the region.”
Meanwhile, French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and the UK’s Secretary of State for European matters Alan Duncan both that their countries would not recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Mogehrini stressed her support for the ongoing work of Jordan’s King Abdullah II for his role in the Israel-Palestine peace talks, adding that she was to meet with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in January 2018.
Israel has long campaigned for the international community to recognise Jerusalem as its capital, which it says has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years, since the reign of King David of Israel as told by the Hebrew Bible.
The Palestinian majority East Jerusalem was occupied by Israel by the end of the Six-Day War in 1967 but has never been recognized by the United Nations as Israeli territory.
Netanyahu will also hold talks with foreign ministers of EU member states.