As protests spread from Asia, through the Middle East, to North Africa against the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in Brussels, seeking the support of European ministers.
At a joint news conference with the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, Netanyahu on Monday expressed his hope that “all or most” of the European states would move their embassies to Jerusalem, recognising it as the capital of Israel.
He was due to meet the EU ministers later in the day.
“Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for the last 70 years. [US] President [Donald] Trump has put facts squarely on the table,” he said. “Peace is based on reality, peace is based on recognising the reality.”
He claimed that recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was making “peace possible”, despite the fact that Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
“Israel has extended its hand to peace to our Palestinian neighbours for a hundred years, well before there was a state of Israel and after it was established,” he also said.
He also called UN’s rejection of Jerusalem as an Israeli capital “laughable”.
“There is now an effort under way to bring forward a new peace proposal by the American administration. I think we should give peace a chance,” he said.
Al Jazeera’s Dominic Kane, reporting from Brussels, said that the majority of the EU ministers did not support the US move.
“Netanyahu was received cordially, but behind closed doors, there is the feeling that the situation is not further forward in terms of Middle East peace effort than they were before.”
“There are some EU states like the Czech Republic and Hungary who say they will follow the example of the US, but the vast majority of them think that it should not be done right now. They think that the two-state solution is the way to go.”
On her part, Mogherini said the EU would continue to respect the international consensus on Jerusalem.
“We know where the European Union stands. We believe that the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two states with Jerusalem as the capital of both.”
Omar Shakir, Israel/Palestine director at the Human Rights Watch, told Al Jazeera that he did not anticipate that the EU’s position would change.
“The European position has been quite clear in terms of not recognising Israeli sovereignty over occupied territory and under international law, East Jerusalem is part of the West Bank and is occupied,” he said.
Eliana Capretti, communication director at EuroMed Rights, told Al Jazeera that any discussions on a possible upgrade of relations between Israel and the EU would send a wrong message on the bloc’s interest and positions on Israel and Palestine.
“Indeed, the meeting risks conveying a message of endorsement of Israel’s occupation policies. To avoid that, the EU should take this occasion to firmly denounce Israel’s human rights track record and clearly spell out its own position on the matter,” she said.