EU leaders have rejected a call by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to follow in the footsteps of the US and recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Netanyahu’s diplomatic overture to Brussels met with a wall of opposition from the EU as hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators took to the streets to protest against Trump’s controversial announcement last week to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem. Prior to his arrival in Europe – the first official visit from an Israeli prime minister in 22 years – Netanyahu said that he expected most EU countries to move their embassies also, but after a breakfast meeting on Tuesday the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, restated Europe’s commitment to the international consensus which calls for an end to the occupation of East Jerusalem to allow it to one day become the capital of a Palestinian state.
Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has embarked on a diplomatic mission of his own to rally support among Arab leaders for a Palestinian countermeasure to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. Last week he met with Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in Cairo and and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul ahead of an emergency summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation next week.
Netanyahu’s arrival sparked protests in several European cities in Germany, France and Belgium where organisers criticised the reasoning behind the prime minister’s visit. “Netanyahu is here today just after Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” said Simon Moutquin of the Belgian-Palestinian Association. “As if the bible is some form of land registry. It’s shameful that someone who has destroyed 1.2 million euros of european humanitarian projects is now welcomed with croissants for breakfast.”