Israel has cautioned the European Union (EU) that its intention to formally back East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state will be counterproductive and undermine its mediatory role in resolving the Israel-Palestine issue.
“The process being led by Sweden harms the European Union’s ability to take part as a significant mediator in the political process between Israel and the Palestinians,” said the Israeli Foreign Ministry in a statement.
The Israeli daily Haaretz has reported that next week, EU Foreign Ministers are expected to officially call for the division of Jerusalem, with each part serving as the respective capital of Israel and a Palestinian State. A draft authored by Sweden, the current president of the rotating EU presidency also implies that the EU would recognise a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence, said the daily. Israel rejects the division of Jerusalem, and has defied international calls for a settlement freeze in East Jerusalem — the territory, along with West Bank and Gaza that it occupies following the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
The EU draft calls for the resumption of talks between Israelis and Palestinians, leading to the emergence of “an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable state of Palestine, comprising the West Bank and Gaza and with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
The document expresses with clarity the territorial boundaries that a Palestinian State should have. It asserts that the EU will not accept any changes made by Israel to the 1967 borders unless they have the approval of the Palestinian Authority. Analysts say that the EU position, calling for geographical contiguity of a Palestinian state, implies that the Union stands opposed to the presence of the so-called “security fence,” which cuts across the West Bank, dividing the occupied area into dysfunctional “Bantustans.”
The EU also welcomes that proposal of Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s to unilaterally declare Palestinian independence. The PA has adopted this position after Israel refused to accept an unqualified settlement freeze in all occupied territory including East Jerusalem.
Haaretz quoting EU officials said that there is “virtually no chance” of preventing the EU from calling for the division of Jerusalem. These diplomats are of the view that the EU statement will encourage Palestinians to return to negotiations with Israel.