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Emboldened Netanyahu set straight by EU

US claim of Jerusalem as Israel capital rejected

EUROPEAN leaders roundly rejected calls to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital yesterday.

Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Brussels for talks with EU foreign ministers yesterday, the first time an Israeli premier has visited for more than 20 years.

Speaking in the Belgian capital, he said: “It’s time that the Palestinians recognise the Jewish state and also recognise the fact that it has a capital. It’s called Jerusalem.”

He welcomed last week’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by US President Donald Trump and said he expects European countries to do the same.

The announcement by Mr Trump has inflamed tensions across the region and drawn worldwide condemnation, leaving the US isolated.

Mr Trump indicated that preparations would begin to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, while Mr Netanyahu expected European countries to follow.

"I believe that all, or most, European countries will move their embassies to Jerusalem, recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and engage robustly with us for security, prosperity and peace," he said.

However, EU foreign ministers reinforced the EU position that the international community does not recognise land occupied by Israel since 1967, including the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

Commenting on the effect of Mr Trump’s decision on the peace process,  Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said: “I‘m afraid it can’t help us.”

Six Palestinians were injured at a checkpoint in Ramallah yesterday as Israeli forces opened fire on a group protesting against Mr Trump’s decision.

And just outside Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip two Palestinians were hit by live rounds and tear gas was fired as demonstrations continued in occupied Palestine for a fourth day.

According to the Palestinian National Authority’s official newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadida, a million people took part in a protest in the Moroccan capital Rabat and hundreds in Lebanon held a rally outside the US embassy in Beirut.

French President Emmanuel Macron urged Israel to halt the building of illegal settlements on occupied land and to enter peace talks with the Palestinians.

And EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini confirmed that the bloc would continue to recognise the international consensus on Jerusalem.

"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," she said.

A protests against Mr Netanyahu’s visit was held in Brussels rejecting Israel’s claims over Jerusalem.

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