Friday

15th Dec 2017

Two EU states break ranks on Jerusalem

Two EU states have broken ranks on the US decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The moves, by the Czech Republic and Hungary, made it harder for the EU to claim it had a single position, even though the biggest member states - France, Germany, Italy, and the UK - stuck to the same line in opposing US president Donald Trump's decision.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Mogherini said Trump move could bring back violence (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Hungary blocked an EU statement on Wednesday (6 December) that was to have voiced "serious concern", diplomatic sources said.

The EU statement was to have been issued on behalf of all 28 member states, but due to Hungary's opposition it was downgraded to a statement by EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini only.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic issued its own statement on Wednesday, which said it "recognises Jerusalem to be in practice the capital of Israel".

The Czech foreign ministry said its recognition covered only West Jerusalem "in the borders of the demarcation line from 1967", but not East Jerusalem, which contains the city's holy sites and which Israel is meant to share with Palestine according to the EU and UN.

"The ministry can start considering moving of the Czech embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem only based on results of negotiations with key partners in the region," it added.

The Czech president, Milos Zeman, further blurred the EU line in remarks on Czech TV on Thursday.

"It [Trump's decision] makes me truly happy … we may, sooner or later, follow the United States," in moving the Czech embassy he said.

Zeman spoke after Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted on Wednesday that some pro-Israeli EU states were preparing to follow the US.

"We are already in contact with other countries which will issue a similar recognition [to Trump's]," Netanyahu said at a conference in Israel.

If Israeli diplomacy succeeds in persuading Budapest or Prague to match Trump, it would be its second snub to Mogherini in recent times.

Netanyahu is to meet with EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday.

He decided to come on the basis of an old Lithuanian invitation, diplomats said. His plan was to talk to EU ministers about Iran at a breakfast in Lithuania's embassy before the ministers held a regular meeting under Mogherini's chairmanship.

When Israel leaked news of the initiative to Israeli newspaper Haaretz last week, Israeli diplomats gloated that Mogherini had learnt of it from media.

Dark times

Mogherini spoke out at an impromptu press briefing in Brussels on Thursday.

Using more strident terms than her official statement of "serious concern", she said Trump's decision had "the potential to bring us back to even darker times than the ones we're already living in".

She thanked him for having promised that the status quo of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim holy sites would remain unchanged.

But she said his embassy move could "diminish" the role of the US in the Middle East peace process and cause "confusion" in international diplomacy.

Mogherini claimed that all EU states were in full agreement.

"This is the consolidated European Union position that has always been built on the common position of member states", she said.

She said "all" 28 foreign ministers had taken the same line when they met US secretary of state Rex Tillerson in Brussels on Tuesday.

She added that Netanyahu's "informal breakfast" would now be held in the EU Council building under her stewardship instead of in Lithuania's premises.

She also said it would be devoted to the Jerusalem crisis, not Iran, as the Israeli leader had intended.

Netanyahu breakfast

"The question of Jerusalem will occupy the whole hour we have at our disposal," she said.

Mogherini's reference to "darker days" came after Hamas, a militant Palestinian group, called for an intifada, or uprising, in reaction to the US move.

The last one, 12 years ago, cost the lives of 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis.

France, Italy, Sweden, and the UK were among eight UN Security Council members to call for a meeting on the crisis in New York on Friday.

A handful of left-wing, liberal, and Green MEPs also protested in an ad to be published in Haaretz the same day.

The ad, seen by EUobserver, was in the form of a mock EU invoice asking Israel to pay €1.2 million - the value of the more than 400 EU-funded structures, such as schools and water sanitation facilities, which Israel has demolished in occupied Palestinian territories since Netanyahu came to power in 2009.

EU 'welcomes' Israeli settler exports

The EU’s envoy to Israel has said that settler exports are “welcomed” in Europe, but the best way to stop boycotts would be to make peace with Palestine.

Agenda

Netanyahu, Panama Papers, and Brexit This WEEK

The run-up to the Christmas break sees a packed schedule, including the EU summit on Brexit, migration and other issues, a rare visit by Israeli PM Netanyahu, and issues such as fishing quotas and the Panama Papers.

Feature

Lebanon crisis overshadows EU aid for Syrian refugees

Lebanon hosts over one million Syrian refugees, and has received some €1bn in EU funds. Caught in a geo-political tug of war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Lebanon's domestic politics have cast a longer shadow over its Syrian 'guests'.

EU complicit in Libyan torture, says Amnesty

The EU and its members states have signed up to 'Faustian pact' with Libyan authorities in the their effort to prevent migrant and refugee boat departures towards Italy, says Amnesty International.

News in Brief

  1. Luxembourg appeals Amazon tax decision
  2. EU leaders agree to open phase 2 of Brexit talks
  3. Juncker: May made 'big efforts' on Brexit
  4. Merkel took 'tough' line on Russia at EU summit
  5. EU leaders added line supporting 'two-state' solution
  6. EU leaders agree to 20 European Universities by 2024
  7. Belgian courts end legal proceedings against Puigdemont
  8. French central bank lifts 2017 growth forecast

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Polish PM ready for EU sanctions scrap
  2. Dutchman to lead powerful euro working group
  3. EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states
  4. EU asylum debate reopens old wounds
  5. Estonia completes two out of three priority digital bills
  6. EU countries are not 'tax havens', parliament says
  7. Tech firms' delays mean EU needs rules for online terror
  8. Slovak PM: Human rights are not a travel pass to EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  2. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  3. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage
  4. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceUnderstanding the Social Consequences of Obesity
  6. Union for the MediterraneanMediterranean Countries Commit to Strengthening Women's Role in Region
  7. Bio-Based IndustriesRegistration for BBI JU Stakeholder Forum about to close. Last chance to register!
  8. European Heart NetworkThe Time Is Ripe for Simplified Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling
  9. Counter BalanceNew EU External Investment Plan Risks Sidelining Development Objectives
  10. EU2017EEEAS Calls for Eastern Partnership Countries to Enter EU Market Through Estonia
  11. Dialogue PlatformThe Turkey I No Longer Know
  12. World Vision7 Million Children at Risk in the DRC: Donor Meeting to Focus on Saving More Lives