Monday

19th Oct 2020

EU criticises Trump's Israel embassy idea

  • Mogherini said EU had "autonomous" Middle East policy (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini has warned that if Donald Trump moved the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem it could have “serious consequences”.

“It’s very important for us all to refrain from unilateral actions, especially ones that can have serious consequences in terms of public reaction in large parts of the world,” she told press in Brussels on Monday (16 January) when asked about Trump's idea.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

She said EU foreign ministers had discussed the issue and that all 28 agreed to “continue to respect” a UN resolution from 1980 that designated Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital.

“We [the EU] will, for sure, not move our delegation that is in Tel Aviv and we hope that there can be a reflection [in the US] on the consequences of any move that is taken”, she said.

She added that the EU had an “autonomous” policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict that would not be altered if the US changed its mind.

Trump, who takes office on Friday, plans to announce the Jerusalem move on 24 May, an Israeli holiday marking the 50th anniversary of its capture from Arab forces, according to US broadcaster CNN.

The fear in EU circles is that if the US abandons the UN model of a two-state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital, it could provoke outrage in Palestine and in the wider Arab world.

German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also said in Brussels on Monday that new Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were "a necessity".

He said he hoped the Trump administration "goes along this path".

The potential shift in US policy has already made its mark on the EU, however.

Britain, America’s closest ally in Europe, declined to join the 27 other EU countries in a declaration on the two-state model at a conference in Paris on Sunday.

"The message [of the Paris declaration] is that two states, the state of Israel and the state of Palestine, can at last live side by side in security and peace," French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Monday.

Diplomatic sources said the UK and Hungary, at Monday’s meeting, also blocked the EU from publishing a statement that endorsed the two-state solution.

Mogherini denied that this was the case, saying that “rumours” of the British veto contained an “element of fantasy”.

She said that Monday’s talks on the Middle East were always meant to have been “informal” in nature and that all 28 countries had voiced commitment to existing EU policy.

Trump-era relations

The foreign ministers met after Trump, in an interview with British and German newspapers, had said the UK would not be the last EU state to leave and that Nato was "obsolete".

“I think the European Union will stick together … I think the European Union will be OK in the future,” Mogherini said.

Poland’s foreign minister, Witold Waszczykowski, said he had spoken in New York one week ago with two senior members of Trump’s team who had pledged ongoing Nato allegiance.

UK foreign minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that Trump wanted to agree a new trade pact with the UK "very soon" in what he called "good news".

Mogherini, who is also a European Commission vice-president, said that it would be against EU law, by which Britain was still bound, if it began trade talks with third countries before it left the European Union.

Trump: New sheriff in town

Europe will be watching Trump's speech for clues on policy, but it is likely contain little more than slogans on making "America great again".

Trump pledges US-first foreign policy

Economic protectionism and war on Islamist terrorism will form the heart of US foreign policy, Trump has said. He did not rubbish Nato, but indicated interest in a new Russia alliance.

News in Brief

  1. Italy takes extra measures as Covid-19 infections rise
  2. Coronavirus: Brussels worst in Europe, health minister says
  3. Vandalism sparks call for EU action on 5G disinformation
  4. Belgium installs curfew, closes restaurants and bars
  5. Ireland to probe Instagram's use of EU children's data
  6. Belarus: 10th weekend rally in a row against Lukashenko
  7. Warfare continues to rage in South Caucasus
  8. Turkish Cypriots elect nationalist president

Column

A 'geopolitical' EU Commission. Great idea - but when?

Safeguarding Europe's position starts with recognising the unpleasant reality that Europe's power is waning. Behind the facade of European cooperation, national self-interest still predominates and that has never been any different.

Rightwing MEPs bend to Saudi will after Khashoggi death

Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed two years ago on 2 October. Since then, mainly centre-right, conservative and far-right MEPs have voted down any moves to restrict, limit or ban the sales of weapons to the Saudi regime.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. France marks trauma of history teacher's murder
  2. Spain's Sanchez in storm over judicial appointments bill
  3. Violating promises and law, von der Leyen tests patience
  4. Brexit and EU budget in spotlight This WEEK
  5. A ghost town haunts the future of Cyprus
  6. EU leaders unsure how to talk to Turkey
  7. EU leaders discuss Turkey's air and sea 'provocations'
  8. EU's 2030 climate target left for December summit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us