Sunday

25th Feb 2018

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.

Opinion

US Jerusalem move is chance for EU leadership

US president Donald Trump's unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital helps the government of Benjamin Netanyahu with its 'Greater Jerusalem Bill' - it is time for the EU to step up and take action.

Opinion

EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy

Not extending the EU fisheries deal with Morocco to fish off the disputed coast of Western Sahara could deprive the Sahrawi people of much-needed income - and throw into question future EU foreign policy in the name of human rights.

EU warns Turkey over 'threat' to Cyprus

The European Commission called on Ankara to refrain from doing "damage to good neighbourly relations", after Turkish vessels stop a rig from reaching a gas drilling zone.

News in Brief

  1. EU calls for immediate ceasefire in Syria
  2. UK's post-Brexit vision is 'pure illusion', Tusk says
  3. EU leaders express solidarity with Cyprus in Turkey drill row
  4. EU to double funding for Sahel forces
  5. EU parliament president: 'The immigration problem is Africa'
  6. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  7. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  8. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeAnkara Ban on LGBTI Events Continues as Turkish Courts Reject NGO Appeals
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU agrees budget to focus on defence, security and migration
  2. EU leaders nix transnational lists, cool on 'Spitzenkandidat'
  3. Regions chief: calls for smaller EU budget are 'impossible'
  4. Election fever picks up This WEEK
  5. EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy
  6. EU leaders put 'Spitzenkandidat' on summit menu
  7. European far-right political party risks collapse
  8. The key budget issues on EU leaders' table

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  3. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  4. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  5. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  8. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  10. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission
  12. Dialogue PlatformWhat Can Christians Learn from a Global Islamic Movement?