Germany’s foreign minister has warned the White House that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city would “fuel” regional tensions. US President Donald Trump is to publicly address the issue on Wednesday.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Tuesday warned the US about the dangers of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel does not calm a conflict, rather it fuels it even more,” Gabriel said. “It’s in everyone’s interest that this does not happen.”
Despite widespread international opposition to the move, Trump is expected to recognize the city as Israel’s capital on Wednesday. A senior administration official speaking on the condition of anonymity told AFP news agency that the president would make the announcement during a speech slated for 1 p.m. local time (1800 UTC).
But Trump will reportedly also sign a legal waiver that would delay moving the embassy by another six months. Senior officials told the dpa news agency that US law requires the waiver to be signed until the new embassy is completed, which will likely take years.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday that Trump had called to inform him of plans to move the US embassy, reported the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency.
Abbas “warned of the dangerous repercussions of such step on the (long-stalled) peace process, security and stability in the region and the world,” said Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh.
Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state that would form part of a UN-backed two-state solution to the decades-long conflict
The Jerusalem question
The status of Jerusalem has been a key stumbling block during previous peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, in particular regarding the question of how to divide sovereignty and oversee holy sites. Another major issue is illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
The international community has never recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or its unilateral annexation of territory around the city’s eastern sector, which it captured during the 1967 Six-Day War.
However, Israeli officials have urged the Trump administration to take the decision. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman called on the White House to take the “historic opportunity” to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying he hopes to “see an American embassy here in Jerusalem next week or next month.”
Europe sounds alarm
In Europe, the US proposal has been met with skepticism and warnings. French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that he reminded Trump that the status of Jerusalem should be determined during negotiations for a two-state solution.
After meeting with US State Secretary Rex Tillerson on Tuesday, Federica Mogherini, the EU’s top diplomat, said any action that risked undermining efforts to restart peace talks “must absolutely be avoided.”
“A way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states, so that the aspiration of both parties can be fulfilled,” Mogherini said.