EU foreign ministers: Jerusalem must be joint capital of Israel, Palestinian state
New draft follows Swedish proposal on division of Jerusalem between Israel, future Palestinian state.
European Foreign Ministers on Tuesday declared their support for the division of Jerusalem, saying that a way should be found to make Jerusalem the shared capital of both Israel and a future Palestinian state.
Sweden, which currently holds the EU presidency, presented a draft document last week supporting the division of Jerusalem and the recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Click here for the EU draft document on the division of Jerusalem.
"If there is to be a genuine peace, a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states," EU foreign ministers agreed in a statement released on Tuesday, diplomats said.
The status of Jerusalem - a city holy to three religions - is a sensitive issue for Israel, which considers the city to be its indivisible capital. Palestinians want the eastern part of Jerusalem to serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.
Israel has strongly objected to the Swedish draft resolution that does not recognize Israel's claims to the eastern part of the city. Israel's Foreign Ministry warned the move would damage the EU's ability to be a Mideast mediator.
"The EU will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem," said the EU ministerial draft. It referred to the Six-Day War in which Israel captured east Jerusalem from the Jordanian army.
The document also called for the establishment of a Palestinian state comprising the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem. "If there is to be [peace] a way has to be found to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the capital of two states," it said.
The competing claims to East Jerusalem remain the most intractable issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Last week, Israel sternly warned the EU against adopting new language that endorses East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.
The draft released Tuesday said the ministers are "deeply concerned about the situation in East Jerusalem" and urged both sides to avoid what it called "provocative actions."
Most EU ministers appeared supportive of the latest draft, although some said the declaration should not antagonize either party in the dispute at the risk of undermining efforts to restart peace talks.
"I don't really understand why Israel does not accept that Palestine consists of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem," Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn told journalists. "The Israelis have a right to live in Israel, the Palestinians have a right to live in Palestine."
Finish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said the EU must affirm its stand on the status of Jerusalem and insist that Israel must not resume settlement building.
"The EU has very strong principles and we have to stick to those principles," Stubb said. "I think the negotiations, the peace process must simply start and this is a way forward."
The EU foreign ministers also praised Israel's decision to a 10-month freeze in construction in West Bank settlements, calling it a "step in the right direction." They added, however, that a comprehensive settlement to the Arab-Israel conflict requires a regional approach.