Sweden to Israel: Don't Divide EU Over Jerusalem Stance

EU adopted resolution calling for Jerusalem to become shared capital of Israel and a future Palestine.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt warned Thursday that Israel must not play "divide and rule" with the 27-member European Union over a recent resolution calling for Jerusalem to become the shared capital of Israel and a future Palestinian state.

Bildt, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, said Thursday the bloc was united and would not "remain shy" on so crucial an issue.

The EU's adoption Tuesday of the new resolution on Jerusalem sparked an angry reaction from Israel, which captured the eastern half of the city in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel Foreign Ministry said the statement by the European Union on the status of Jerusalem was substantially softer than Sweden's initial draft, once again demonstrating the Scandinavian country's failure as the EU's rotating president.

EU foreign ministers called for negotiations over Jerusalem, saying a way should be found to make it the capital of two nations, Israel and a future Palestinian state.

"Sweden has done nothing over recent months to advance the Middle East peace process," a Foreign Ministry official said. "The EU's only saving grace is that some of its members are responsible and moderate nations didn't support the Swedish draft, which looked like something taken out of the Fatah platform at the Bethlehem conference."

Last week, Sweden presented a draft document supporting the division of Jerusalem and the recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

"The peace process in the Middle East is not like IKEA furniture," a Foreign Ministry official said, referring to the Swedish furniture chain. "It takes more than a screw and a hammer, it takes a true understanding of the constraints and sensitivities of both sides, and in that Sweden failed miserably."

A senior ministry official added that a group of nations had "saved the European Union from itself, since any other decision would have dealt severe harm to the relations between Jerusalem and Brussels, and would have prevented the EU from becoming an important partner in the peace process."

Earlier, the Foreign Ministry issued an official response to the EU statement, saying that the "European Union ignores the primary obstacle to achieving a resolution between Israel and the Palestinians: the Palestinian refusal to return to the negotiating table."